Why We Hunt
After my last blog was posted on the internet I saw some interesting commentary from the public. The comments varied from positive to negative and were mostly generated strictly from a picture and not from actual written word. This certainly added validity to the term “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The comments displayed that a simple picture of a hunter with a dead animal can stir up many emotions and opinions from the non-hunting and hunting public alike. Although a book could be written (and maybe should be written) about this topic I will just offer up a brief summary of the reasons why we hunt or don’t hunt.
I firmly believe that many people are born with the desire to hunt. Whether it is the thrill of the chase, the challenge of the pursuit, the adventure of the unknown, or the inherent need to provide…some are just born with a passion for hunting. Some people pick up the sport of hunting later in life out of curiosity, necessity, or finally being presented with an opportunity. The origins of the hunt with each person are as varied as the hunters themselves.
In the public eye there are obvious controversies surrounding the act of hunting. Some people are adamantly opposed to the act of killing an animal for food, sport, or conservation on a fundamental level. They have an ideological viewpoint that the killing of an animal for any reason is wrong. Although I disagree with their stance, I understand that their born desire to let all things live is as strong as my own desire to hunt. I will never berate a true vegan for having an alternate point of view as long as they give me the same respect. Vegans and hunters can cohabitate as long as the proper boundaries are maintained.
The viewpoint that I find intolerable is the one of the uneducated meat eater or trendy vegetarian. With their nose held high and ignorance in tow they walk through this world eating meat that they deem suitable for humans and forsake all other forms. They find the act of hunting appalling but will buy chicken of unknown origin and feed it to their families. The trendy vegetarian will eat salad and tofu but make exceptions on Thanksgiving, Christmas, handbags, and leather boots. They ignore the fact that the only reason many species of farm animals even exist today is because of their value to humans posthumously. As a result of ignorance they are unaware that hunter funded projects have kept many species of animals from extinction and actually provide them an opportunity to view them on public lands. From a lack of topical education they fail to understand that hunter funds from donations, licenses, and sales tax fund most governmental projects to buy, restore, and conserve wildlife habitat nationwide; and without these funds the wildlife we all enjoy, hunter and non-hunter alike, would pay the ultimate price. This is the viewpoint that can and should be changed with education and fact.
I don’t expect all to agree or understand my reasons for hunting. Some would argue that I just enjoy killing for sport and this couldn’t be further from the truth. I, as many who walked before me, enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Although the success and failure of a hunt is not always determined by the death of an animal, the trademark goal from the inception of the hunt is that result. Some hunt strictly for a trophy and others strictly for food. As long as both follow legal and ethical standards to achieve their goals I have no contempt for either. Everyone’s definition of hunt success doesn’t have to meet the same criteria and that’s what makes it such a personal achievement. I have and will always view every animal I take as a trophy, a gift, and most importantly as food. If I smile while taking a picture with a whitetail or turkey it is because I am proud of my achievement not to gloat over the death of a living creature. I will never apologize to those who don’t agree with me but will also not make an unprovoked stand against them.
Other hunters should be encouraged to stand together as a community despite our internal differences and educate those willing to be educated. Our reasons and methods for hunting vary in great degree but our fundamental belief is the same. This belief should be encouraged but not imposed on our children. They are the future to this great tradition and what they learn from you will be our legacy. Most importantly they should understand why “They” hunt. When they ask you “Why do you hunt?”…how will you answer?
Corey J. Wilkinson
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Last Updated: February 13th, 2013
One thought on “Why We Hunt”
Growing up in rural Illinois, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the woods, far more than average I would wager. Yet I never saw a whitetail deer in the wild in Illinois until I went rabbit hunting while home on leave from the Army in 1971. I saw my first buck in Illinois in the fall of that year. The deer came back only after fees collected from other hunting and fishing licenses funded their replenishment. We now have an abundant, thriving deer population. And yes it is hunted and provides a much-needed food supply for many Illinois households.