BorntoHunt By R.G. Bernier Photo by the Author
What is it that attracts a hunter to the spirit of the chase and the great outdoors? Is it to merely collect another set of antlers? Take the life of a spirited animal? Feed an ego, chase a dream or bolster your self esteem? What are we really after? Nate Simmons of The Western Hunter asked, “It can’t simply be boiled down to meat on the table or antlers strapped to our pack. If that were the case, why would we climb so high, endure so much and fail so often?” Deer hunting is recreation and an invigorating pastime, but if we are to instill the passion of this grand pursuit into the heart of a wouldbe hunter, we must first define what hunting actually is. It’s not about the kill. It’s about the process, Simmons wrote. It’s the beauty, peace and perspective it produces. It’s the pain and fear we often face. At times, it’s about reconnecting not only with people you love but places you love. And occasionally, it’s the solitude needed to reconnect with ourselves and listen to a voice more powerful than our own.
From dusk until dawn. From sunrise to sunset. When pain and discomfort have long been forgotten. Between times of shivering and those of sweat.
In Boys to Men of Heart: Hunting as Rite of Passage, Randall Eaton wrote, “Hunting and killing are as fundamental to male development as birthing and infant care have been to women.… Men take life to support life, and the kill itself is the event that engenders compassion, respect for life and the moral responsibility to protect it.” Yes, you read that right. We were born to hunt. For those of us who do, male and female, we need no convincing of that. We didn’t need an incentive — just an opportunity. However, a poor, misguided soul that chooses not to exercise that innate desire to hunt is making a choice derived more from societal influence than disdain for the natural activity. Deer hunting is so much more than the act of taking an animal’s life. It consists of solitude and camaraderie, success and failure, strategy and methodology, stewardship and land management, and all the fun of new equipment, seed, camp, cooking and so much more.
From energy to exhaustion.
After hunger but before fulfillment,
Desire is something that cannot be imbued. It must be felt. It’s that longing in the heart to be an active participant and also succeed and excel at whatever fuels your passion. From my earliest recollections, I wanted to be a deer hunter. I played the role as a youngster, enacting scenes of hunting tales heard from my dad. By using fallen tree branches for rifles, with friends holding real antlers atop their heads pretending to be deer running amidst the forest, we made our childhood games a realistic sport. I think the reason many of us return to the deer woods year after year has more to do with desire than success. Results, whichever way the pendulum swings, should never overshadow the exhilaration of the hunt or diminish our recognition of the good graces allowing us to hunt. Hunting is a process that should never be overshadowed by the results. Bonds between family and friends, fathers and children, man and nature should become a major part of each outing, and when success shines upon you, it will feel even sweeter because of them. Void of the distant rustling of leaf litter announcing the arrival of a deer, the hunter’s heart would never realize the stimulating sensation this sound engenders. Minus the tranquility that comes with a gentle falling snow, the type that accumulates like cotton on a stick, the trek becomes mundane. Without the sun rising in the east to cast its first
All thirsts are eventually quenched. When frustration greets humility, Sadness gives way to exhilaration as challenges are overcome. Through it all, the hunter carefully plans his chase with but a simple prayer, Asking for only one fair chance. All the rest is dreaming time. – Primal Dreams (Wensel/Mitten Productions)
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/ Vol. 29, No. 2
Whitetail News Volume 29 Issue 2