When you hear a good hunting quote, it sticks with you.
That's why we wanted to gather some of our favorites to share with you. Maybe you've heard them, or at least heard of the person quoted. Maybe they're brand new to you. In either case, you're likely to get something out of each of them.
Some are humorous, and some are serious. Some come from pioneers of our sport, and some come from those less interested or knowledgeable. These are the ones that spoke to us on a deep level.
Here are our top eight hunting quotes.
"When he was young, I told Dale Jr. that hunting and racing are a lot alike. Holding that steering wheel and holding that rifle both mean you better be responsible." -Dale Earnhardt
Though this quote can easily be seen more as a statement about stock car racing than about hunting, its meaning and resonance undoubtedly goes both ways. Just like driving a car at high speeds is dangerous, hunting is dangerous. When you pick up a rifle and head out to hopefully kill a buck, you are entering an arena where your life or the lives of others could be at stake.
This is way testing the safety of your gear and assessing the situation before you pull your trigger is important, because if you don't you could be ending your life or the life of a fellow hunter. Earnhardt's quote conveys all of this, and it becomes even more powerful when you consider that he lost his life because of the responsibility he took on by grabbing the steering wheel. The lesson? Be careful out there. Even the mighty can make mistakes.
"There's an absolute surety to the hands-on conservation lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping where you know you're going to consume today." -Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent has said a lot of things about hunting, and a lot of them have been off the wall or downright nonsensical (another one of our favorites is "If Elvis Presley had been a bowhunter, he'd probably be alive today"). However, there's a lot of truth in this particular quote, which speaks to how fulfilling and satisfying a day of hunting or fishing can truly be.
"A hunt based only on the trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be." -Fred Bear
Fred Bear, legendary bow hunter and founder of Bear Archery, has a few great hunting quotes on his resume, but this one is our favorite. Those who claim that hunters are just bloodthirsty killers don't understand the side of the sport that Bear describes here. While the trophies and the kills are our endgame, they certainly aren't what defines our sport.
What defines our sport is a respect for nature and a love for the process and atmosphere of the hunt. A hunter who cherishes all of the charms of his or her surroundings can never fail, even if a trophy is not found. Remember that - and this quote - next time you find yourself in the midst of a weak hunting season.
"Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them." -John James Audubon
The first part of this quote may be the most perfect encapsulation ever of the way that most hunters wish they could live life. Drawing might not be a part of the equation for everyone - Audubon was a painter and naturalist in the 18th and 19th Centuries - but you get the idea. The author of Birds of America discovered 25 new species during his work, and contributed a lot to the ecological and natural world.
"For us hunting wasn't a sport. It was a way to be intimate with nature..." -Ted Kerasote
"For us hunting wasn't a sport. It was a way to be intimate with nature, that intimacy providing us with wild unprocessed food free from pesticides and hormones and with the bonus of having been produced without the addition of great quantities of fossil fuel. In addition, hunting provided us with an ever scarcer relationship in a world of cities, factory farms, and agribusiness, direct responsibility for taking the lives that sustained us. Lives that even vegans indirectly take as the growing and harvesting of organic produce kills deer, birds, snakes, rodents, and insects. We lived close to the animals we ate. We knew their habits and that knowledge deepened our thanks to them and the land that made them."
Written by Kerasote in his book Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, the above passage is something that far too few hunters will ever read because it doesn't come from a book that is specifically about hunting. However, if the John James Audubon quote is the perfect encapsulation of how hunters would love to live, then this magnificent paragraph is a perfect encapsulation of why those hunters hunt in the first place, and why they view hunting as a morally acceptable pursuit.
"My dinner is still in the woods." -Unknown
We've seen this quote crop up on a few Internet memes over the past few years, and suffice to say that we love it. It's hard to say exactly where the quote came from, but keep it in the back of your mind for the next time you need a masculine one-liner about hunting.
RELATED: 10 Best Hunting Memes
"A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact." -Aldo Leopold
We like this quote because it parses a piece of hunting subject matter that few of us consider. Hunting is a sport, but it is not a spectator sport. Hunters are not given a crowd of adoring onlookers to recognize their feats of marksmanship, intelligence, strength, or resourcefulness in the woods.
Instead, a hunter is left completely to his or her own devices, a fact that leaves concepts of sportsmanship, victory, and defeat entirely open to the interpretation of each individual sportsman. Fascinating stuff.
"In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen." -Theodore Roosevelt
Bring this quote into the conversation next time you get into a heated argument about the moral rectitude of hunting. In Roosevelt's mind, sportsmen and the animal conservation and management organizations they support are the only reason why our very modern and developed country has been able to maintain a vibrant animal population. Amen.