From the time humans looked to the horizon where heaven meets earth and wondered what lay beyond that thin line, there were hunters. Each new mountain, fjord, canyon, and meadow was first trodden on by a hunter. Before the colonies, cities, countries, and empires were erected there was a hunter’s camp. Before agriculture, trade, borders, and government there was hunting. Pursued by few and misunderstood by many it is an activity that has shaped our history and informed our thought and ethics on the natural world and our role within it. You are about to embark on a journey that no words I write here will do justice. It will break your back, blister your feet, fill your heart, and revive your soul all in a day. Its highs will humble you, its lows will break you, and its nuance will teach you.
Learn your quarry. What do they eat? Where do they sleep? What are their needs in what time of year? You will see the woods differently when you learn these things. People tend to go to the woods and not really see what is right in front of them. Hunters, good ones, absorb much more of their surroundings by understanding the animal’s relationship to the habitat and how it affects them. In turn you will have a more fulfilling and successful time in the woods.
Hunt for you and you alone. Do not pursue anything for someone else. Not for friends, family, money, or Instagram. Hunting is a deeply personal endeavor, even when shared with others. When successful, be proud of your kill. Whether it’s a yearling fork horn or the biggest bull on the mountain, as long as it was ethically and legally harvested, do not let anyone else’s prejudices or opinions sour you success. Cherish it.
Respect the animals you hunt. Utilize its meat, hide, horns, and bones to your fullest ability and skill. In the end nature wastes nothing but that does not warrant careless field care or flippant treatment of the death of any animal.
Know your weapon. Practice. Practice. Practice. You will be a more confident hunter when you have a deep understanding of your weapon. Bow, rifle, shotgun, it does not matter. You owe your prey the most ethical and lethal shot you can deliver. No matter the range, a shot should not be taken if you are uncertain you can execute that shot perfectly to the best of your abilities. If you have doubt in your weapon, your abilities, or the distance is beyond your experienced range you should not take the shot.
Just another hunter