Scott Linden On Why We Hunt
Bend, OR – -(AmmoLand.com)- Neil, In Denver last weekend you wondered aloud why we hunt. Why anyone would work so hard and so long for a few bits of protein. I thought about that while hunting chukars today. Thanks for the motivation – everyone should go through this exercise periodically, taking stock of why they wander the ridgelines and prairies. Other hunters may have their own reasons, but here are some of mine:
Oh yeah, and then there's the scenery.
It starts, and ends, with the mystery and magic of a dog at work, centuries of genetics and instinct in a furry, panting, slobbering package … the manic excitement of that first 15 minutes out of the truck, trembling, intense points, the way at the end of the day he lays his head on my lap as we drive home. A hunter knows where the term “dog tired” came from.
Dog and man, hunting, speak a language others don’t understand, and both of us are better off from our time together. There’s tiny towns like Fields, Oregon, population 9, opening its arms and hearts to me. Rural America is alive and well if you know where to look. Hunting places are full of honest, kind, helpful, hard-working people and we are lucky to share their world if only for a few days.
There’s the chance to spend time with the only person from college worth spending time with. Sure, it’s just an excuse and we could do the same on the golf course or in Vegas … or could we? Sharing a wild place puts things in perspective. There is no posturing, there are no walls, literally and figuratively. Knowing you’re in a place where humans aren’t at the top of the food chain changes your attitude, as does realizing every step could be your last: off a cliff or battered to pieces in a rock slide. We embrace life fully when we risk losing it. Respectfully taking a life reminds us of how close we are to the brink, to the earth, sky, and fundamental elements that make up a full life.
Hunting is the ultimate reality check.
We see things that nobody else does outside of the Discovery Channel: bald eagles and great blue herons, the spear point lost 200 years ago by a Paiute deer hunter, the tiny spring hidden by lava frozen in time. The long-lost friend driving up a rural road as I’m driving down, and catching up on the past five years at the local café where I know how to run the coffee maker. And do.
The gratitude of knowing a year earlier I couldn’t walk the length of my driveway, yet today sat at the top of a 2,000 foot climb with my dog at my side, surveying majestic mountains, sere desert, lush riverside and blue sky. Knowing you are truly alive on a hunt, senses pegged to the max. Killing something isn’t necessary for a successful hunt, knowing you might is critical. Bringing home free-range, organic protein is good, in fact better food than most of our friends will ever dine on. But the pursuit also links us with our not-so-distant past, and those who still must hunt to survive.
You walk with purpose while hunting, eyes open wider, smells more intense and sounds piercing your soul. You are re-connecting with generations past, fulfilling a centuries-old mandate to provide for the tribe. But the nourishment goes beyond rebuilding cell walls and fueling one’s metabolism.
Sorry for the long list Neil, but those are a few of my reasons. Come with me some time and start your own list.
[And the rest of you – how about starting YOUR list, in the comments section?]
Linden Media Mgt. LLC was founded in the personal experience of Scott Linden, a city slicker made good by fresh air and wild places. A mid-career epiphany/introduction to fly fishing pushed Scott off the edge, a tumble that now includes dog ownership, multiple shotgun purchases and fanatic bird hunting. For more details visit www.scottlindenoutdoors.com.