Why do people hunt? People hunt for different reasons and in different circumstances. Whether you are a modern hunter, use primitive hunting techniques or are hunting in order to stay alive, you are hunting a wild animal in order to gain sustenance. Let’s examine why people hunt.
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Simple. Because animals taste good. OK, seriously, I was brought up around it and where I was raised, almost everybody hunted. Harvesting and eating game was not only accepted, but it was also the norm. (Note: If you think the harvesting of animals for consumption is barbaric, this is very likely not going to be your cup of tea. I respect your world view and I ask that you do the same for me. )
I have been hunting since I was nine years old. During this time, I have harvested, prepared, and eaten cottontail rabbits, pheasants, doves, ducks, geese, deer, antelope, feral pigs, and elk. Some of the small game species I have taken by the score. I have also harvested a respectable number of big game animals. Certainly, I am an avid hobbyist and there are many, many more experienced and skilled hunters than I, but I know of which I speak. Here is why I hunt.
Is it good food?
Not only does wild game taste good and provide food for my family and me, but it is also truly good food. There are no steroids or artificial growth hormones present in the game I take. Wild game is typically very lean. If you take the wild game, you know where it was harvested, where it ate, and what it ate. Just as important, you know how it was handled after being killed. Certainly, some have and will take big game animals to game lockers and give up some of that control, but butchering and processing animals for your family’s dinner table is special. If the average citizen would look at how some of the food they regularly eat is processed, they would quickly lose their appetites. My wife is not from a hunting family, but after becoming more comfortable with the hunting culture, she quickly embraced the health aspects of eating wild game. She is a sensational cook when preparing wild game, whether a deer or elk roast or pheasant stew.
It is Enjoyable
Time spent in the wild with family and friends pursuing a fair chase game is healthy, enjoyable, and precious. No, the vast majority of hunters do not hunt just to kill something. None of the dozens of hunters I know to hunt for the sole purpose of killing. Surely some poor, sick souls do so, just as there are misguided individuals that attend speed racing events hoping to see a crash. These types are a small, small minority of those that hunt. The hunt is not about the kill. It means different things to different people, but for me and many others, being close to the earth, in nature, whether by myself or with others I care about, is special. Some of the best hunts I ever had, no game was taken.
You may be doing a service
Urban sprawl and the reduction of natural predators (other than man) have led to the rapid growth of certain species. In North America, you are more than likely to be killed by a deer than any other animal. That’s correct, deer, not bears, mountain lions, or wolves. This is due to the deaths caused by deer vs. vehicle collisions and the corresponding fatalities. Additionally, the monetary cost associated with nonfatal or noninjury deer vs. vehicle collisions is considerable. During an out-of-state trip this fall, this writer hit a deer and did almost ten thousand dollars in damage to his vehicle. This story is not unique.
For the purpose of this article, we will be referring to primitive hunting as the use of a bow, muzzleloader or crossbow (where legal) to take the game. Full disclosure, I am not an archery hunter and although I have hunted with a muzzleloader, I do not usually do so. Many do and they do so for several reasons. Some look at it as more of a challenge. You do not have the range or the luxury of a quick follow-up shot and either have to stalk, lie in wait effectively or call your prey in. Some look at it as leveling the playing field and taking away the advantages that technology offers in the way of modern optics and metallurgy, matching your wits against those of the prey.
Even in the category of primitive hunting, there is a division between modern archery gear vs historical bow and arrow and modern muzzleloaders as opposed to historical muzzleloaders. Those who chose to pursue this route tend to be very dedicated in the pursuit of perfection and wild game. It falls to the preference of the user. Many hunters enjoy both primitive and modern methods of hunting. Some, however, tend to follow the wisdom of the Samurai and hunt solely with modern firearms. To paraphrase, “Master the weapons of your time.”
The subject of survival hunting comes in two flavors, micro, and macro. In other words, a survival situation that involves you or yourself and a small number of other individuals or yourself and a large number of individuals. This may include you and the rest of the world.
It is just you
Should one find themselves in a situation where they have to procure food until they are rescued or effect self-rescue, hunting may not be the best course of action. Quite frankly, unless the situation presents itself or is easy to do, time and calories may be better-spent fishing or trapping food (that is another article) or procuring shelter, water, or conducting a movement to rescue. Sure, it would be prudent to have the skills and tools on hand to harvest a meal while in such a situation, but unless the situation presents itself, passive measures to procure calories may be wiser. That said, knowing how to use a wrist rocket slingshot or effectively be able to use a breakdown bow to pick off the unsuspecting rabbit, squirrel or even deer would not be a bad thing.
Survival Hunting During The End Of The World as We Know It
Can hunting provide food in time of emergency? During a period of the pandemic, supply chain breakdown, and an ongoing war in Europe in which one of the involved nations is a nuclear power, this question is to be expected. People are worried. What happens if the unthinkable happens and the world goes to hell in a handbasket? What happens if food becomes hard to come by? Many appear to be surprised that food does not come from the supermarket. Anyone raised on a farm or in a rural environment knows differently.
The popular, romantic notion that folks will simply head off into the woods to live off the land is just that, a romantic notion. The truth is much more sobering. The idea that one will be able to hunt effectively with no previous experience, training or the proper tools is patently absurd. It will be extremely difficult for experienced hunters, using any and all tools at their disposal, to reliably do so in the long run. Desperate people will take desperate measures and the supply of wild game will dwindle rapidly. During the later years of the great depression in the United States, it was extremely rare to ever see a deer. Why? Because the depression was going on, food was hard to come by and people used all means at their disposal, legal and illegal, to feed themselves and their families.
In such a situation, where all hell has broken loose, even in urban areas, trapping may be the way to go. Time spent now working on primitive and modern trapping techniques may prove invaluable in the future.
I have an acquaintance who lives trapped over 30 squirrels in an urban environment with no prior training or experience, with the appropriate live trap, some corn, and a few peanuts. The squirrels were doing damage to his residence. As his wife is an animal lover, he released the squirrels into the wild a suitable distance away. In the gravest extreme, those squirrels were a potential source of protein. One thing that should be pointed out is that the diet of city squirrels and other animals is different from their country cousins. Quite frankly, it may not be wise to eat animals procured in such a fashion unless it was the gravest extreme.
What should I do?
There have been thousands of books written about hunting. This article is merely giving the reader something to think about. Hunting can be very rewarding on many levels and if you are a meat eater and so inclined, it may be something to pursue. Knowledge is power and knowledge gained today may prove to be useful in the future.