Essay:Why I hunt
Recently, I wrote in the saloon bar about how I hunt, and enjoy doing so, and noticed that for whatever reason, the community does not seem to share the same enthusiasm that I do for hunting. I feel that it would be best to write from an emic perspective as to why I hunt, and dispel a few incorrect assumptions about hunting.
I would first like to clarify what kind of hunting I do. In general, I go with a group of two or three friends, any more is just too loud. I hunt strictly using recurve bows, and do not hunt in excess. The popular stereotype of a camouflaged uzi-wielder shooting everything that moves is, by good fortune, only a small minority, even to the point I have never met one.
New York State, indeed, the United States, has recently undergone an explosion in the population of deer, which has led to several problems, including, but not limited to, deer getting hit by cars, increased consumption of crops, and due to the scarcity of resources, starvation in the more extreme cases. It is estimated, according to the same source, that 1.5 million vehicles hit deer in 2003
This population explosion can be attributed to improper hunting tactics in the past, including an excessive attack on wolves. The lack of predation has allowed the deer population to explode, possibly past the environmental carrying capacity. This triggers the starvation problems mentioned earlier.
The main argument against hunters seems to be along these lines. “Hunters kill everything that moves without regard for if they are going to eat it”. I say, “bollocks”. Undoubtedly, there are people who fall into that characteristic, but most of the hunters I have met are responsible men and women who go out with the intention to get something for some reason, and take no more then is needed.
One of the principles I learned in Boy Scouts and have carried over is “Leave no trace”. By that, I take only what my friends and I need, and nothing excessive.
So why do I hunt? I do so because I know that the deer are already overpopulated, and that by a combined effort, hunters can help undo the problems we caused. I hunt because I know that a heart attack and unconsciousness in about 15 seconds is much less painful then writhing on the ground after getting hit by a car. I hunt because it is a good social activity, staying out in the wilderness for a weekend eating the catch of the day over a fire.
Above all, I hunt because it is fun.