Why Do People Hunt?

upland hunters
Photo: Howard Communications

Why do some people enjoy hunting? And what is it about our special pastime the uninformed, politically correct or anti-hunters find offensive?

As hunters, being able to properly explain why we go afield is just as important as successfully taking wild game. We need to have good answers when family, friends and non-hunters ask us out of honest curiosity.

Sound science has proven that hunting is the most cost effective means of managing wildlife populations and the habitat in which they live. Left unchecked, burgeoning populations of game negatively affect the landscape. And when Mother Nature is left to correct the balance she does so in her own cruel manner through things like starvation and disease.

Sportsmen gladly pay for the right and privilege to take part in the timeless tradition. We do so through the purchases of licenses and through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, more commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, named after its sponsors.

This act collects excise taxes on the purchase of hunting equipment. Funds are kept in trust by the Department of the Interior where they are returned back to individual states based on the size of the state and number of licensed hunters. Money used for land acquisition and conservation measures benefits all forms wild game and non-game species. Every person who utilizes our outdoor resources benefits from this such as bird-watchers, photographers and hikers.

Although some hipsters may think they originated the farm-to-fork movement, hunters have been doing this since the beginning of time, except we refer to it as field-to-fork. Nothing can be more pure and in tune with our natural environment than wild game. While participating in the ultimate field-to-table experience we are also enriching our physical fitness. The added bonus is while taking part in natural exercise we see views no gym can provide.

We enjoy hunting because we value friends and family. When we go afield with companions many times cherished memories are made. Try that behind a computer screen.

Before the beginning of modern agriculture and the raising of livestock, hunter-gathers roamed the earth to survive. Our forefathers and early pioneers push westward depended on their connection to nature, to feed their families, as well as their souls.

To some degree modern hunters carry on the tradition. It is unfortunate that many sportsmen are not able to articulate exactly why we love hunting. “I just enjoy it,” is the most common answer. But this I understand because I myself sometimes struggle putting into words the strong desire to connect with nature on a level unfathomable to those who don’t take part in consumptive outdoor opportunities. Something driven by DNA as old as mankind.

We hunt because of adventure. Hunting, not video games or organized sports is the original pathway to the world of adventure. Whether it was our first rabbit hunt or moose hunt of a lifetime there is adventure to be had in our natural world, even when close to home. All you have to do is find it.

Hunting is not made to be easy. It is said if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you and sometime I feel it is the ultimate challenge, whether busting brush for bunnies or traversing snow covered slopes at high elevations.

So the next time you are posed the question on why you hunt. Take a few moments, give it some thought and try your best to explain the real reasons why hunting is the fabric of life that many of us wear. But only if they are willing to listen.

John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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