As with any pursuit, there is a tiresome amount of information to learn. Going through my fair share of hobbies, I’ve never encountered one as complicated as embarking on the journey of becoming a hunter. The topics capable of diving deep within the realm of hunting are at times overwhelming; ammunition, arrows, packs, optics, tripods, rifles, bows, tag applications, land ownership, hunting regulations, conservation, and the list doesn’t end there. It feels almost like a part-time job to research everything you need just to begin hunting and like I should consult a lawyer to make sure I’m doing it legally.
A Bit of Background
I come from a fairly active lifestyle of climbing, soccer, mountain biking, and camping, all while maintaining a career in design and web development. Climbing and mountain biking often led me to what some would consider the wilderness, but I knew there was a pursuit of adventure I was missing completely.
For years I was searching for hunting but didn’t know it. I knew hiking wasn’t enough. Climbing and mountain biking filled me with a passion for adrenaline but nothing more. I was searching for something that was meaningful, not only to me but also something I can bring home to my family and friends to share the adventures in such a way that they can taste it. I knew that climbing and biking would never get me there.
I’ve learned from my past hobbies that physicality, suffering, and challenge are where I find the long-lasting fun required to develop a passion, and hunting hit that mark completely. I was drawn to hunting for a few reasons; I love the outdoors and all challenges it brings, I enjoy staying physically active, my wife loves food, and finally, like many, I was becoming increasingly disconnected with my food.
The connections between food, the outdoors, challenges, and the physicality to hunting are numbingly obvious looking back on it, but I grew up in the city and thought hunting was reserved for old men on safari adventures. I had nothing against it, I just didn’t know any better. I wasn’t aware of the strength, both mentally and physically, required of being a western hunter. Hard work, determination, practice, and persistence were never an association I’d make with hunting in the past. It wasn’t until I listened in on several conversations between Joe Rogan and Steve Rinella that I learned of the challenges of filling a freezer at home.
My wife absolutely loves to eat, more so than anyone I’ve met. If I’m ever slightly worried about her happiness with me my first instinct is to make food. The strategy has proven successful 100% of the time. I can not think of a more satisfying moment than preparing a meal for my wife and family. Watching their eyes open to the size of dinner plates when their taste buds register that first bite brings me unequivocal joy, whether or not they’re simply entertaining me.
The more I sought out this moment the more I realized I could take it a step further by inserting myself into the next piece of the ‘supply chain’. I don’t want to rely on the grocery store for all of my meat, I want to be able to say I did what I had to do in order to serve my family.
So I planted a garden and took my first steps to become a bowhunter.
Letting Go Completely
After buying my first bow, my first pair of binoculars, and the first camouflaged long-sleeve I ran into, I thought I was ready to hunt. I opened up the Arizona Game and Fish Regulations book ready to choose my hunting grounds only to be met with the crushing blow of information I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. Realizing I had a lot to learn, which is part of the fun, I wanted to take a shortcut. I decided to make a drastic change in my life and apply for a job directly in the hunting industry and leave behind my comfortable agency career and fully immerse myself in the world of hunting.
Long story short, I’ve found myself surrounded by a room full of experts and enthusiasts alike from whom I can extract knowledge that only comes with experience in the field. I’ve grown as a hunter more in the past few months than I did in the first 2 years of trying to piece together a hunt. I realize how incredibly lucky I am to find myself in this position and I don’t take it for granted, which is why I feel the need to share what I learn along the way.
In upcoming posts I’ll talk about some of the challenges I’ve faced to this point, some obstacles I still can’t quite get over, and what it’s like to be the worst hunter in the room.