For those who look for excuses to spend time out in the woods, here's a list of 10 reasons why hunting is life.
You wake up, and you think about hunting. You go to sleep, and you think about hunting. Most of the hours in between? They're spent thinking about hunting.
Even though most of you won't need to be told, hunting takes up a lot of our lives. It's an overwhelming experience to bag your first deer, shoot your first goose or hang that first elk mount on your wall.
Life is hunting, and hunting is life, and here are 10 reasons why that's true.
View the slide show for each valid reason, and add your own in the comments.
1. You have Opening Day marked on your calendar
What' the biggest day of the year? The first day of summer? Someone's wedding day? A big national holiday like Christmas or the Fourth of July? All valid answers, but if hunting is your life, you probably chose another day: Opening Day, to be exact. Where the first day of deer hunting season falls on the calendar can vary drastically from one state to another, but when it finally rolls around, the feeling is the same no matter where you are. It's one of excitement, adrenaline, and anticipation, and it rightfully turns you into the grown-up version of a kid on Christmas. Just make sure you tell your boss you won't be coming into work that day!
2. You routinely have valid licenses to hunt in multiple states
A die-hard hunter can't be contained to single property, town, or even state. On the contrary, if you live and breathe this sport, then you know what it's like to spend the winter and spring applying for every rare lottery license in the United States. Sure, you'll buy the regular hunting license for your own state, but you'll also pick up a Washington elk hunting tag, put your name in the pot for a Florida gator license, and even shoot for bighorn sheep or pronghorn antelope in some other western region. Heck, you might even grab a few out-of-state deer tags, just to ensure yourself a change of scenery.
3. You've got a taste for venison
There aren't a lot of non-hunters out there with a taste for venison. Most people would describe deer meat as tough, "gamey," and not as flavorful as other meats. Though there are certainly exceptions, it usually takes a passion for hunting to truly develop a taste for venison. If you've got a freezer full of the stuff at the end of hunting season and legitimately can't wait to try out a few dozen new recipes over the course of the winter, you're officially a die-hard.
Check out these venison recipes:
4. You've hunted on another continent
Hunting beyond the borders of your home state is the first step that many take from being a hobbyist hunter to becoming a lifer. Eventually though, you may even begin to long for the sort of exotic hunting experience that North America - for all its great game species - just can't muster. Hit the web, book an exotic guided hunt in Africa (lions or elephants, perhaps?), and jet off for an entirely new hunting adventure. Whether you bring home a trophy or not, no one can question your obsession for hunting if you've left the continent to do it.
5. You view bagging a buck as the ultimate athletic accomplishment
Running a four-minute mile? Big deal. Winning a Super Bowl? Good for you. Finishing a marathon? A showcase of true resolve. Bagging a record-breaking buck? An accomplishment deserving of the highest level of commendation and respect.
Quite simply, not a lot of people understand how much skill hunting takes. Our sport isn't recognized by the Olympics and the average person doesn't always see much appeal in killing a monstrous male whitetail. We stick together though, admiring one another's accomplishments and pushing each other toward even greater benchmarks. In other words, if you understand the athletic skill symbolized by a big buck, you're part of the community that views hunting not only as a sport, but also as a complete way of life.
6. Late fall is your favorite time of year
Almost everyone has a time of year that they look forward to above all others. For most people, it's the escape, relaxation, and unbridled freedom symbolized by summer. For some, it's the winter months, when fresh powder makes sports like skiing and snowboarding a consistent pursuit. If you're all about the late fall, however, there's a very good chance it's because of deer hunting season and the prevalent whitetail activity brought on by the rut, and there's nothing wrong with that.
7. You run through gas more quickly than anyone you know
Were all of your friends complaining a year or two ago when gas prices skyrocketed above $4 a gallon? They didn't know the half of it. In addition to spending a solid percentage of their income on hunting gear and license fees, hunters use a ridiculous amount of gas to get themselves back and forth from key hunting properties every day or every weekend.
8. You watch hunting-related TV shows
Who needs American Idol or Jersey Shore when you can watch masters of hunting at work right on your home television? If you're a regular viewer of Duck Dynasty, if your favorite channel is the Outdoor Channel, or if you ever come home from a long day out in the woods only to flip on the TV set to watch other people hunt, then you've officially ascended into the ranks of the hunting obsessive.
9. The word "deer" is the common link for all the books on your shelf
Want to spot a die-hard deer hunter right away? Look at his or her bookshelf. Those who live and breathe hunting will reflect that fact in their reading choices, and for good reason. When you love something, you want to learn more about it, and that's the case with many hunters who spend their off-seasons or spare days in the armchair, absorbing the wisdom of the masters who have come before them.
RELATED: 5 Best Hunting Books
10. You'll go out in any weather
Sweltering heat or freezing cold, torrential downpour or cascading blizzard, no weather is enough to take a die-hard hunter out of the game. When hunting is your life, you come to realize that you only get so many days a year to hunt. You aren't willing to sacrifice any of them, regardless of how wretched it is outside. Sure, we'd all rather have 50 or 60-degree temperatures, sunny weather, and all-around perfect conditions, but what really separates the men from the boys in this sport are those bitter, sub-zero mornings during gun season.