Changed by Deer Hunting

Changed by Deer Hunting

Posted 2016-11-16T22:43:00Z  by  Jason Reid

From Never Hunting to Experiencing the Excitement of Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is often misunderstood. But those who choose to learn what it's truly about, often find themselves drawn to the lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Jason Reid)

Breath vapors fogged the light streams of Dave's headlamp. His father-in-law whispered, Good luck, shoot straight, and patted him on the shoulder. At 46 years old, Dave, an entertainment systems business owner said, This was my first opening day and for the first time I felt alone as the walk in the darkness was spooky. You never really have to do this living in suburbia, he joked. Settling into his stand, Dave was just trying to notch his first deer tag. Freezing in mental paralysis as a spike buck walked by him, he wanted to shoot but couldn't quite keep his nerves steady enough to make the shot. After an hour, a second deer appeared trying to escape the pressures of firearms season. A handsome 3-year-old eight point followed the same path as the spike, but this time Dave knew what to expect. Keeping the adrenaline at bay, he found an opening in the brush and squeezed the trigger.

The volatility of our sociopolitical environment has many questioning if the culture of hunting can survive. Threats from special interest groups and the growing separation of people from their food sources have numbed many to the importance of hunting, conservation and the emotions associated with the hunt. But we are seeing growth in hunting just as much as we see threats. Growth among adults picking up hunting is some of the best news lifelong hunters have heard in decades. We're seeing people starting to hunt later in life in order to gain a better connection to their food and have new experiences. There is an energy flowing through these people who discover the power of the wild later in life. Their life experiences and backgrounds brings fresh perspective to the hunting community and for those of us who grew up hunting find ourselves drawn to their energy as they uncover the same experiences we cherish in our souls.

Dave found himself slipping into a deep interest in hunting at first because of sporting clays. Learning to shoot clays made me comfortable with guns and gun safety. It wasn't until the recession of 2008 and having a local family of hunters share their bounty, since we had nearly no food at times, that the idea of hunting for our own meat became a viable option. Dave also says the excitement of the hunt is infectious for three reasons: food, family and fellowship.

I am nearly 50 and at this point in life, there isn't much I haven't seen. Hunting is teaching this old dog new tricks and my mind just soaks up every part of being in the woods. To bring it home to my family is the most gratifying feeling because I know where it came from.

Kids' Muckster II Camo Boot in Realtree Xtra

Kids' Muckster II Camo Boot in Realtree Xtra

When it comes to learning the ropes of hunting, Dave explained there is so much to learn. I am constantly taking notes. It is a cerebral experience for me because I have to constantly think and adapt. Maybe this is too real for some people, but I am not sure if there is anything that can light a fire in a person at this stage in life like hunting can. Learning hunting comes in the form of confidence to new adult hunters. Unlike in teaching a youth hunter, adult hunters ask direct and challenging questions in order to gain a true understanding of what they are doing. To lifelong hunters, the critical thinking behind the questions can be refreshing and also challenging since questions push us to become better and expand our own understanding.

Pam, a banking executive, told me, I wear a suit everyday and work downtown. Nobody expected me to hunt, not even me. But my boyfriend and his family have such a joy and excitement surrounding the preparation and the fellowship of being at a camp together, my interest was peaked. When he invited me to try I was interested because of their enthusiasm.

Pam learned she was able to spend quality time and strengthen her relationship with those she loved through the sharing of powerful moments in the wild. To see deer together feeding into range was a bonding experience for my boyfriend and me as it was exhilarating to have a small four-point so close. After having the chance to experience having a deer in range, I understand why [people] are so passionate about hunting together. I see it as a great way for couples to grow together as well.

Pam found her confidence stemming from a true understanding of firearm and archery safety and says quality instruction has made the difference. Watching others and experiencing a hunt was helpful, but practicing has alleviated many fears when it comes to both guns and bows. Nowadays, I value the ability to shoot, and the wildlife I hunt, because we put time and effort into the pursuit. She followed up the statement by saying, I really thought the waiting would be boring, but it is full of anticipation that is addicting.

The act of the kill is clearly a pivotal aspect of what we do but is under such intense scrutiny. To adult hunters, the thought of pulling the trigger on an animal is once again approached with critical thinking. Pam says she is aware of the act but does not have an apprehension to pulling the trigger. Honestly I was ready to shoot the buck under our stand on opening morning. I didn't feel scared about the thought of settling the crosshairs on the deer one bit. I love wild game and have enjoyed learning to cook with it since we tend to have plenty of it from all over North America.

Dave also echoed Pam by saying, I am a foodie at heart and love to experiment with different meals. The thought of killing an animal does not bother me because it is a part of nature. [It] has given me a new satisfaction because of understanding the process much more than in the years before.

Perhaps it is time and land access or fear and assumption which keeps potential hunters from exploring the opportunities deer hunting can offer. In speaking with others who have caught the proverbial hunting bug by daring to step into something new brings a smile to my face. By hearing adult hunters relay stories of intense emotions deer hunting brings many of us may have taken for granted for so many years, I am confident deer hunting will survive by impacting people's lives and passions one-by-one. I have something incredible to talk about now, says Pam. Both men and women find the stories I now have interesting, especially my girlfriends and I know their interest is peaked too.

Also, read about how this anti-hunter became a devout bowhunter.

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