Hunting is ____________. How you fill in the blank will have a huge bearing on your hunting experiences.
Have you ever heard that life is lived between your ears? In other words, our lives become whatever our brains tell ourselves it is. Our mental outlook on life has so much to do with where we end up it is hard to overstate. The old saying goes that “both confidence and doubt are self-fulfilling prophecies.” If you think you will fail at something there is no sense even getting started because you are already defeated. On the other hand if you believe you will be successful you give yourself a great head start to achieving your goal. Our thoughts create our reality.
The same goes with hunting. What is the act of hunting? Hunting is whatever you make it. Some would disagree and argue that hunting is this or that, or you have to kill this caliber of animal, or use this type of weapon. People can argue over this for a lifetime.
When people say they “are going hunting”, what snaps into your mind? Do you envision a treestand on the edge of a cornfield? Perhaps the vision is a string of pack horses weaving through mountain timber. Maybe you see a pickup truck driving a county road from one spot to the next. Do you see a rifle or a bow and arrow? Maybe you think about huge antlers hanging on the wall, or perhaps a steak grilling over a campfire. I’d be willing to bet whatever you see in your mind is what your hunting moments actually become.
How you envision the act of hunting will impact many things. It will impact the way you hunt, what you get out of the hunt, your expectations of the hunt, and ultimately your hunting enjoyment and experience. It will impact how you spend your hunting cash, and the equipment you become proficient with. It will change the articles you read and the videos you watch. In short, your brain’s picture of hunting will ultimately determine how you actually hunt.
Sometimes we think the way we hunt is the only way to hunt. Bowhunters can see rifles hunters as taking the challenge out of it, and rifle hunters can look at a bowhunter and wonder why they would handicap themselves so much. In another conflict of perspective, meat hunters and trophy hunters can also experience misunderstandings. Meat hunters quip that “you can’t eat the antlers” and trophy hunters wouldn’t get the same type of satisfaction out of killing a doe that a meat hunter would. In the end, neither party hunts in a superior way, only their own way.
With all the outside pressure on hunting these days, like this crazy vegan, the hunting community should stick together and respect each others’ pursuit of game. As long hunters hunt legally and ethically, we should encourage each other’s pursuits and encourage their actions.
The next time you enter a discussion with somebody who hunts in a different way than you, remember to take a moment and realize that although they hunt differently, they still hunt. That should be the major bond that unites hunters of all kinds.