By Jason Reid
(Rochester, New York) At a recent house-warming party for a few friends I met a kid in his late teens who had passed his hunter certification test that day. Walking into the basement, I made a comment that the place needed a few pieces of taxidermy. The guy turned on a swivel and told us of his excitement at starting to hunt this fall.
With the threats hunting faces today from anti-hunters, to our own government shutting down public lands for bureaucratic reasons, to the shift in demographics, meeting a self-starting new hunter in his late teens made my day. As we talked for the better part of two hours I noted nothing but excitement in his eyes. He was not bogged own with the thoughts of the future of hunting like those who have hunted their entire lives. Reflecting on the chance meeting, I decided to write a few thoughts for others who may be starting to hunt for the first time this fall.
Kid, welcome to hunting. Your excitement now pales in comparison to what you will experience when you sit a morning for the first time with a gun in hand. For you and any first-time hunter, here is what you will inevitably experience on this journey should you have the fortitude to stick with the activity and turn it into a lifestyle.
Joy will be among the first emotions you experience. The peacefulness of the wild is unmistakable. Through hunting you have the chance to experience the wild in a far different way since you are not simply enjoying the wild for the view, but have to break down the wild and learn its secret in order to get into shooting range of an animal. This journey will bring frustration, peace and elation. No other activity on earth draws on both physical and emotional strength like hunting will. You will go through times where you do not see a single animal which uses your patience. Long hikes and cold weather will beat you down and in order to survive as a hunter, you must learn to love the struggle. The struggle produces character, and when you hit this frustration of not seeing game for the first time, you have to make a choice which will determine what kind of hunter you will become. Quitting is easy. Being successful at hunting is not.
When you do kill your first animal, deer, duck, bear or elk you will feel a gratitude for life in a way you have never felt before. The meat will have true value to you as you eat what you worked hard for. Shopping at the store will never be the same. You will not be hooked on hunting because of any kill, but because the completion of a hunt is difficult and is a part of an entire process you now get to experience.
You will see land differently and feel a sharp pain each time you see a housing development being built where good hunting land once stood. You will suddenly become concerned with what happens to public lands thousands of miles away and may ever impact you directly. You feel connected to the frustrations of other hunters you have never met. In short, you will actually give a damn about the environment and the animals which inhabit it because of your new connection to the wild. The good news, through conservation you can actually get things done for the wild instead of ranting on social media.
Hunting will impact other areas of your life. It can grow your patience and tolerance for irritations. Hunting can form your friendships and strengthen existing ones because of the intimacy of the lifestyle with hidden aspects of our world. Hunting will be unique to you and you will find your niche. It could be big game with a longbow or it might turn out to be a passion for calling ducks into a spread. You will find what you are good at within the wild and I urge you to study what it shows you. Become prolific and lend a hand to the next person you meet who want to start hunting and never forget those who helped you along the way.
Jason Reid has a passion for finding and telling the next great outdoors stories. Balancing a passion for writing and sales everyday, it is his passion for adventure Bowhunting which drives him to always strive for excellence. Follow him on Instagram @pushingthewildlimits and on Facebook.