Now that we’re deep into deer season we’ve been seeing more and more harvest photographs taken by archery mentors involved in our youth mentor hunt program. These aren’t typical trophy buck harvest photographs but they capture something just as valuable: a hunter’s first harvest. After learning the basics, observing experienced hunters and lots of practice…they did it and the look on their faces as they pose next to their deer says it all.
This Kodak moment is only one small piece of the hunting puzzle but it got me thinking about the important skills and experiences they’re going to gain through the hunt. In today’s busy-modern world hunting is a unique and valuable experience, especially for the younger generations. Hunting presents opportunities to learn and grow as people that they might not get from any other sport or activity. There are many lessons hunting can teach, I’ll touch on just a few here. Do any of them stand true for you experienced hunters out there?
Patience: Today we don’t have to wait long for much of anything and it’s becoming easier and easier to lose patience. We are busy people and we’ve come to expect speed and immediacy. This convenience is awesome but patience is still a virtue. Whether it’s waiting for the season to start, waiting for deer to wander through, or waiting for the right shot, hunting is all about patience. It takes hours of preparation and practice before being ready to go into the field. To be a hunter is to be resilient, you can’t give up even after you spend the whole day without any action. For a generation who are growing up with video games and computers that give them instant feedback, hunting teaches them how to slow down, commit to a process and be patient.
Self-reliance: Our ancestors depended on their ability to hunt for survival. Nowadays that dependence is not a part of our everyday lives. Instead, with restaurants and grocery stores on every corner we all rely on other entities. Hunting provides an opportunity to connect to our ancestors and bring back self-sufficiency. Hunting wild game for a meal is a great way to learn the importance of providing for yourself and the payoff of hard work.
Appreciation of nature: We’ve all read the research, we’ve all heard the reports, spending time outside is good for us. Simply spending time outside can improve one’s mood and cognitive functioning. Hunting gets people outside but it also takes it up a notch by developing an appreciation of nature. Hunters learn to be stewards for the land they hunt on and conservers of the game they pursue. Hunting often involves a deep understanding of the natural environment. Hunters study habitat clues, observe behavior patterns, know the importance of scent and sound and of course need to know a little animal biology. I’m sure there are some cold November mornings where hunters aren’t shouting their appreciation from the tree top…but at the end of the day you’ve got to be thankful for the beauty of it.
Family-traditions: There are many ways families can come together and pass on traditions but it is a major aspect of hunting. Almost every hunter I know learned the tricks of the trade from their parent or grandparent. Preferred recipes, field-dressing techniques, firearms, blinds, and land can all get passed on from generation to generation. Hunting is unique from many other hobbies in that it’s hard to jump into on your own. Hunting is something families can all do together and is a great way to build stronger relationships between older and younger generations.