I don’t think anyone really understands the time,effort, or dedication that is put into hunting and fishing unless they actually do it. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go sit in the dark, sometimes shivering in the cold, or sitting around the lake for 8 hours, only to catch a few small fish. People don’t really get it. To me, it’s simple: I am doing what I love. However, I think that it’s important to help those who don’t understand the “why” behind my reasoning. Not because I want to force these things down their throat, but to help change their perspective. There are a lot of people that don’t understand why I love to hunt and fish. Here are some of the questions I hear on a regular basis.
How can you kill a helpless animal?
I have talked a lot about this before, but I will say it again. I have extreme respect for the animals that I am hunting. I strictly only hunt game that I personally like to eat, so there is never a question in my mind if I have a successful harvest where the meat is going. I spend a lot of time practicing to make sure my shots are lethal, and I usually fish on a catch and release basis. It’s never about killing.
Do you really need the meat that bad? Why not just go to the grocery store?
I don’t need the meat in my freezer and I could go to the grocery store, there’s more to it than that. There’s something to be said about knowing where my food comes from. The process that you go through to harvest an animal that puts food on your table is such a new experience. When you go to the grocery store and you pick out your chicken or beef, it’s very disconnected. When you harvest an animal in the field and process it through to the point of being on your plate there is, again, a sense of thankfulness and respect. When I open a pack of venny burger that has the year and the deer written on it in our handwriting on it the effort, time, skill, and the hard work that was put in to harvest this animal is all re-lived.
Wouldn’t you rather use your vacation time to travel?
I love a good tropical cruise or going to the beach as much as the next person, but hunting and fishing are just where I want to be. Until last year when I got a new job I really didn’t have a lot of vacation time. I would take unpaid time off to go out and hunt or fish. I would drive from NY back to MA or to VT and hunt or fish with my dad and our friends.
Last year I took a week off to hunt the first week of shotgun season. I remember telling someone this, excited to get out in the woods, and they said “seriously, that’s what you’re going to use your vacation time for?” It didn’t matter that I only saw the ass end of one deer in the 6 consecutive days I was in the woods, because I was doing what I love. A successful hunt to me is simply an added bonus.
Isn’t it expensive?
Of course it’s expensive! But let’s be real, everything in life is expensive. I don’t really mind investing my money in myself. Let’s face it, that’s what I am doing in this case. This is my “me time.” Some women like going to the salon, the mall, or the spa. I’d rather get out in the woods or on the water.
I also don’t tend to buy super expensive or fancy gear. I am all about finding affordable, functional, and practical purchases. Remember, I am also not a fan of change, so I tend to use my gear until it’s what I would call “beyond repair” a trait I definitely picked up from my dad who has gear that’s older than I am.
Doesn’t that take up a lot of your time?
Absolutely, but just like money, I would rather spend what free time I have doing what I love. Not only that, but this is time spent with people I care about. Being able to share this with them is like nothing else. Life in general is time consuming and making the time is the hardest part, but in return I have more once in a lifetime experiences than I can count.
I think as a community hunters and anglers are widely misunderstood. If you’re a hunter or angler, and find people asking these questions, instead of getting defensive I urge you to go into the “why.” Forget about defending what you love for a moment, and express the joy and the passion of why you love to do it. On the flip side, if you don’t hunt or fish and you want to know more, try to think about the way you pose your questions. If we continue to open these conversations and to be open minded, then maybe we can encourage more people into the sport, or at least the way that we are viewed from outside our community.