Learning How To Hunt

Learning How To Hunt

Hunting is enjoying a renaissance lately. More men are taking to the woods for the first time to test themselves and see if they can provide when the challenge presents itself. While the increased media presence of such men is encouraging, the typical anti-hunting rhetoric that believes all hunters are cruel and thrill-seeking madmen still exists. That can be discouraging for men interested in taking the necessary steps to learn how to hunt but are afraid of the image it may portray to others.

For those of us who have decided to pursue hunting, we understand the clarity that comes with being an active participant in the food chain instead of a passive beneficiary. For others who have not taken the leap to hunt, some questions must be answered to provide peace of mind in our pursuits.

Hunting Types and Targets

When deciding to hunt, we must have an idea of why so that we know what type of hunting to pursue. If we are interested in trophy hunting, we will most likely be paying for the privilege to hunt on private land. If we are hunting to provide meat for our family, then public lands will potentially suit us. Once we know our reason, we'll know what to research to be successful in our hunts.

Trophy hunting for large game, such as deer or elk, serves many purposes. It can be a tough undertaking but also a rewarding one. Most uninformed hunters or non-hunters view trophy hunting as a thrill hunt, but it serves a much more important benefit to wildlife. Trophy animals are typically older and on the downward slope of their life expectancy. They have served their purpose in the grander scheme of things and have likely spread their genetics through multiple offspring. If allowed to stay in the herd, they would prevent younger males from adding to the gene pool and keeping the herd healthy. They also stand a much greater chance of suffering a debilitating injury or sickness that can cause them to suffer as they age. 

While trophy hunting can benefit herd health, some ethical questions are valid when hunting for an animal that meets the criteria, and it depends on where you choose to hunt.

Hunting Lands and Conditions

In some states, you will find that the hunting lands are predominantly public access. Hunting public access lands can be just as rewarding as hunting on private land, but it is typically more laborious due to regulations, locations, and increased competition for a limited quantity of animals. There is something more romantic about hunting public access land, though. Typically there is no baiting allowed on public access land, whereas private properties may utilize feed plots and baiting to help guarantee customers the opportunity to make a kill. This is something to keep in mind when setting out on our first hunt. Do we consider feeding an animal to make it easier to kill, ethical?

Additionally, most public lands are not fenced in and allow for ease of movement of animals. However, some hunting areas on private lands may use a high-fence system to keep the animals they have managed inside and on their property. If you have spent years and many resources to help create trophy animals or a higher quantity of animals, keeping them isolated behind a high fence can make their lands more bountiful. But can we consider hunting an animal that is kept inside a fenced area an ethical hunt?

The question of which method you will use to dispatch an animal also needs to be considered. Most hunters use rifles to quickly and assuredly kill an animal with as little pain as possible. Other hunters look at a rifle as a cheat and prefer to use a bow and arrow to make their kill. This requires the hunter to be much more disciplined and closer to the animal to ensure a successful hunt. Is using a more powerful gun more ethical than a less powerful bow and arrow? Or is the requirement of being closer to the game with a bow and arrow more ethical than the ability to spot and shoot an animal through a telescopic sight from hundreds of yards away?

Expectations Vs Reality

If you are a prospective hunter who has watched mostly hunting programs to get an idea of what it takes to have a successful hunt, you can be in for a surprise on multiple fronts. First of all, most hunting programs focus on successful hunts, which makes for entertaining television. However, the typical hunter does not find success as regularly as most programs seem to indicate. The average hunter spends months preparing for a hunt, weeks of actual hunting, and, if lucky, a day or two of success each season. That is a very large time commitment for something that has no guarantee of success.

The reality of a successful hunt, however, is unbeatable. The adrenaline rush that comes with taking a shot can literally make our entire body shake. The satisfaction of knowing we can perform when required and provide food for ourselves and our family is also very rewarding. The sense of accomplishment that comes with filing a freezer with the game you harvested is fulfilling.

Whatever our reasons for deciding to hunt may be, we will face questions and challenges that we have to answer and overcome for ourselves. If we can do that and agree to be ethical and honorable in our pursuit of game, we can come away from the hunt knowing we are doing what so many men have done before us.