The Spiritual Component in Hunting

The are many rewards of hunting. They often go beyond procuring meat or contributing to conservation. We also hunt for spiritual reasons.

Shane Mahoney, wildlife biologist and CEO of Conservation Visions, has a knack for exploring and explaining many of the less obvious issues and components associated with hunting. Here, he speaks thoughtfully on the spiritual side of hunting.

The parallel between spirituality and hunting is tough thing to define, although many hunters definitely feel it when they're in the mountains, woods or field. That connection to something bigger than us, which somehow satisfies that inner need to be intimately connected to the natural world, is very real.

Mahoney explores that spiritual component and, I believe, successfully defines what many of us feel.

Hunting is about more than filling the freezer. It's also about filling an inner, almost undefinable need.

"We need to talk frankly about why we really hunt, and speak to what moves us to take pursuit," Mahoney says. "We hunt for inner peace, for mindfulness, to attempt to achieve profound sensory discipline, that moment of perfect alertness—perfect meditation. We hunt for the comfort in the ritual of discomfort."

Perhaps in those still, quiet moments, when the cold air reddens your ears and you can see your breath, you've thought of why you get up before dawn to sit in a cold tree stand or hunker down in a damp duck blind.

"Hunting is a deliberate journey to the union of life and death," Mahoney explains. "Hunting connects us viscerally to the certain reality that life requires death and by doing so makes real the weighty importance of both."

And maybe as you hold that beautiful, dead pheasant or lay your hands on the back of a downed whitetail buck, you've answered your own questions of why you engage in this glorious, though uncomfortable activity.

"Life requires death. And death begets life. Our souls understand this," he concludes. "This intuitive understanding of the connectivity of all things provides us with a deep sense of respect for the life of that which we pursue."

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.