Here are ten more great songs to add to your hunting playlists.
Most every hunter has a list of hunting season songs- songs that we play when getting our gear together or that we play in the truck on the way to our hunting spot.
I like to put the phones on or earbuds in at night, using music to fuel my imagination with movie-like scenes of big woods and raw wilderness, mountain men and American Indian hunters from days of old.
This list of songs don’t all necessarily contain hunting imagery in the lyrics. Heck, some of them don’t even have lyrics. It’s more about feeling here. There are songs that feel like the wilderness, that feel like mountain air and dirt-encrusted boots.
These are songs that could be the soundtrack for running a shallow valley to intercept a bull elk, or that backdrop the quiet, still time glassing a hillside.
Here goes, in no particular order, THE Ten Best Hunting Songs EVER! (in my humble opinion).
1. “The Ballad of Jeremiah Johnson” by Tim McIntire and John Rubinstein
Is there a hunter alive, of any age, who has not seen and who does not count “Jeremiah Johnson” as one of his favorite films? I’m betting that no such hunter exists.
McIntire’s roughhewn, honest and sensitive vocals were a perfect match for this great wilderness adventure. Who of us has not envisioned himself as Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson? As soon as McIntire sings the character’s name – the first two words – every hunter’s beard automatically grow another inch and an imaginary Hawken rifle fills his hand.
2. “Hibernation” by Ted Nugent
Virtually every list of great hunting songs includes at least one entry from Ted Nugent, and that is as it should be. Nugent probably has more great hunting-themed songs than anyone. Shoot, we could make a Top 10 list of great hunting songs from his catalogue alone.
“Hibernation” and “Great White Buffalo” have always been personal favorites, with “Hibernation” providing the most room for creative imagining. It’s not one you often see on lists like this.
It’s the instrumental equivalent of hunting in the mountains, with plenty of contrast, high energy and tasty guitar work.
It’s also lengthy enough to allow one to create a whole internal narrative, from spotting to stalking to tracking to hauling those hindquarters out of the backcountry and back to camp.
3. “Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers
An upbeat country rock tune with a “wo-oh-oooh…listen to the music” chorus that everyone can – and usually does – sing along to.
“Meet me in the country for a day.
We’ll be happy.”
That’s about as honest and straightforward as it gets.
The natural world is indeed full of music. “Listen to the Music” could be a tee shirt slogan for hunters.
4. “Seminole Wind” by John Anderson
“Seminole Wind” is one of the best country-rock songs ever made with a great, and refreshingly understated, environmental message. It celebrates both the wilderness and the nation’s first hunters while decrying the loss of wild places for strictly commercial purposes. And it does it without sounding preachy or angry.
I’ve never hunted or even been in the Florida Everglades, but when John Anderson sings,
The last time I walked in the swamp
I sat upon a cypress stump.
I listened close and I heard the ghost
of Osceola cry.
Those lyrics might just as readily apply to the northwoods of the Midwest or to Chief Black Hawk. All hunters have sat upon a stump and listened to the wind.
5. “In A Big Country” by Big Country
Around the time that this song was released (1983) I also took my first trip out west, to the Dakotas, and saw what they meant by “big sky country.”
The land was fantastic. It was the first time I had seen buffalo and elk in the wild.
The associations I have with the song may not be the ones that the band intended, but for me the tune means big country where hunters glass mule deer and elk, climb mountains and carry quarters out on their backs.
6. “Mother Nature’s Son” by The Beatles
Born a poor young country boy,
Mother nature’s son.
Forget that Paul McCartney might be an animal rights extremist, and co-opt this song for the Huck Finn in all of us, cradling our .22 rifles in our arms as we hunt squirrels or cottontail rabbits on beautiful and sunny early autumn days.
7. “Furr” by Blitzen Trapper
What makes a good hunting song? How about a super-melodic folk rock song full of references to howling wolves, flesh and fur, love and family, and occasional sounds of nighttime critters in the background?
Blitzen Trapper is surely one of the best bands of the last decade or so, with at least eight albums released thus far.
8. “The Gael” Last of the Mohicans theme by Dougie Maclean
If “Jeremiah Johnson” is essential viewing for any hunter who ever dreamt of hunting and trapping the big mountains of pre-settlement America, “Last of the Mohicans” is its bookend.
The opening scene of the movie shows Chingachgook, Uncas and Hawkeye fleetly running through a deep forest in pursuit of a massive bull elk. They bring it down with the most beautiful firearm ever created – a flintlock longrifle – and pay the animal its due respect and gratitude for giving its life to them.
That might be the single best Hollywood scene ever filmed that speaks to the hunter’s ethic. The movie’s theme song is a favorite for many hunters.
9. “Echo Calls” Theme by Theron Woods
This is a heckuva hunting song, and the only song on the list that is specifically about hunting. Theron Woods wrote the tune specifically for Echo Calls, a duck and goose caller maker.
Why this song wasn’t a country rock hit is beyond me.
10. “Call of the Wild” by Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes
Here’s another rare Ted Nugent cut from his sixth and second-to-last Amboy Dukes album, “Call of the Wild.” “Call of the Wild” is one of those songs that feels like it could have/should have made a mark on the charts. The whole album is excellent.
“There’s a ringing in my ear and I think it’s the call of the wild.” Not many lyrics can beat that one.
There you go, the top 10 best hunting songs ever written, at least until one of us writes the next list. What are your favorite hunting songs?
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