A recent survey shows an upswing in the number of hunters who list "for the meat" as the top reason.
Why do you hunt?
It's a question most of us have been asked at least a few times. What answer do you give?
Is it the trophy aspect? Camaraderie with friends and family? To be closer to nature? Do you hunt solely for the meat?
For me, it is a little of all those things. I would be lying if I told you a glimpse of a giant set of antlers slipping through the forest didn't make my heart race. Heck, even a small- to medium-sized rack still makes my pulse go up.
There is no doubt that spending time in the woods or in the blind with my family and friends is one of my favorite things. Time afield with my wife and kids keeps us in touch in what is an otherwise hectic life. I look back through old photos of our kids with deer, turkey and other game they have taken through the years and I remember those good times. And I hope they do too.
Camp, be it deer, turkey or fishing, is some of the most fun we have together as a family. While we are there, those other things that would normally have each of us occupied are absent, we sit around the campfire between hunts, cook together, eat together, laugh and talk.
I love my time spent in nature, watching the woods come alive with the rise of the morning sun. Listening to barred owls and whippoorwills finish their night shift as the songbirds and turkeys take over to greet the daylight. I savor the stinging cold with each breath during a late-season deer hunt, when the woods are so quiet and crisp that even a scurrying ground squirrel brings to mind a herd of deer moving my way. I live for the anticipation in those last few minutes of daylight, knowing that a deer will step into sight at any second and hoping it happens before those last few seconds of legal shooting light.
But I write a wild game food blog, and game meat makes up a large portion of our yearly diet. So I guess you would put me in the mainly hunts for food category. I'm not alone. A recent blog post by Realtree's Brian Lovett cites a survey by Responsive Management in which a full 39% of survey respondents listed for the meat as the chief reason they hunt. This is up from just 22% who answered the same way in 2008.
Why the increase? I think there are a few reasons. Chief among those is probably the field-to-fork locavore movement that has swept the nation in the past few years. People are better informed about where their food comes from these days. They want to know how the meat they consume was raised, with many preferring it to be as natural as possible. It doesn't take much research on the topic to realize wild game is the most natural protein available. Game meat is additive, steroid and added hormone free, leaner than most farm-raised meat, and tastes absolutely delicious when prepared correctly.
This desire to put wild game on their family's dinner table is also one of the main contributors to new hunters taking up the sport. I often participate in group discussions with new hunters where the bulk of the questions getting asked center on field care, processing and cooking of the meat. Many of these hunters readily admit that no one else in their family hunts and that they are taking up the sport for the sole reason of obtaining the most natural meat available.
So let us know, why do you hunt? I'll read your answers when I get home from trying to put another turkey in the freezer.