East Tennessee Outdoors: Why Do I Hunt?

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 25, 2019



I hunt. Yes, I fish, hike and do other outdoor activities, but one of my greatest enjoyments is hunting. Some of my friends and acquaintances wonder why I hunt. My only reply is if you have to ask why then you just don’t understand.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

You don’t understand the peacefulness of a cool autumn day when the leaves have turned to golds, reds, and browns and they are laying like a carpet in front of you.

You don’t understand the silence of a new day right as the sun creeps up the mountain and melts the frost ever so slowly. Then the world comes alive with birds, squirrels, and a million other forest creatures. Some times they are so many it is like the forest floor itself is moving.

I hunt because of the cleansing of the mind when I can sit and let my mind drift to a thousand things that have stayed hidden in me for just such a time. They come flowing from me like a river of thoughts, emotions and of memories.

I hunt because of the anticipation, of sitting for hours waiting for the quarry to show itself, and when he does, my heart beats faster from the sheer emotion and adrenaline of the moment. I hunt because I know if I use skill and patients, I will succeed when I least expect it.

I hunt because that is what my ancestors did. They hunted and fed their families with game from the forests and fields, and they had to be able to shoot, track and read the signs that are everywhere in the mountains. If they failed, their families would go hungry.

I hunt to provide for my family the way my ancestors provided for theirs, and when the day is done, and the snow is blowing, there is a satisfaction in knowing there is meat in the freezer. It is meat that I put there, with the help of the Creator, and it will help feed my family through the long winter months.

I do not hunt to kill, contrary to what the media and many people may think. I don’t hunt for an antler on my wall or a head above my fireplace mantle. I hunt because my dad hunted, and his father hunted and somehow, I connect with them when I am in the woods. Every day that I am hunting, maybe they are there, and they are pleased.

I hunt because I love animals, and I know I am part of a bigger process that uses sound management practices to help regulate the animal populations through hunters.

I hunt because of the memories, of long cold days reminisced around a fire in the dead of winter and exciting stories of animals taken and those that got away.

I hunt because my dad and my uncles took me hunting and took the time to teach me that hunting was not about killing. They are all gone now, and all I have left is a few faded photos of them and the memories of hunting trips of long ago.

Finally, I hunt because of the game. For those who hunt, you know what I am talking about. It is a game of quarry and hunter when you try the best you can and sometimes you fail. That is the game.

Many years ago, my grandfather did not come home from a hunting trip, and eventually he was found in the mountain he loved, dead from a heart attack. He died hunting, and I know he would have had it no other way.

One day maybe I will die like that – sitting on a lonely hillside with my rifle lying next to me, waiting, watching, hunting. I can only hope and pray that I leave this world enjoying what the Creator has made, and I leave a legacy of sportsmanship and conservation.

Maybe they will just say, “He was a hunter”.