Why Do You Hunt?
In years past, hunting for me always involved family and friends. It wasn’t a one day ordeal but, an entire season. The most enjoyable part of the hunt was sharing that time with others, swapping stories about what we saw or didn’t see, talking through strategies for the upcoming hunt, and reliving successes and failures of days long gone. That time of fellowship is always the most enjoyable part of the experience.
Since moving to the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, I find myself hunting on my own a lot more these days. I miss the camaraderie of hunting in my younger years but, I’ve found so much more in my time alone in the vast wilderness of the west. Being alone in the mountains brings a since of calm over your world, and your mind can focus on what’s most important. Gone are all the distractions of everyday life in the neighborhoods, towns and cities. There’s time for your thoughts to drift without being disturbed by breaking news, social media, work, or troubles in the world or at home. There is no internet or cell service, just the beauty of your surroundings, which provides a more spiritual impact and uplifts your soul.
Hiking in the mountains at elevation is never easy, but it’s part of the raw, untamed experience hunting brings. Your body functions more efficiently, you focus on quality nutrition for fuel and consume plenty of clear, clean water. You notice the color of the fall leaves and pay close attention to a shift in the wind. You recognize fresh tracks verses old, based on the condition of the soil, and listen intently to the natural world around you. You feel the suns’ rays as they strike your face, and awe in the silence of the world after a fresh snow blankets the earth.
Being alone and surrounded by the beauty of the high country gives me time to reflect on decisions I’ve made that have changed the course of my life. It also gives me the opportunity to focus on the things that are most important going forward.
It’s a spiritual time when I can feel closer to God and reflect on the many blessings He has provided.
When I take time to just look around and marvel at all He has created, the world seems so large and what problems I brought with me seem so small.
Another benefit I truly enjoy is the exploration and adventure that comes with being in the outdoors. As I hike the backcountry in pursuit of my quarry, I often wonder what’s over the next rise. If I could just see over the next ridge, will I find what I’m looking for? Lush mountain meadows surrounded by glistening golden aspens with thickets of pine and fir higher up the range. Or will I find the stream that’s still carrying water and the tracks and wallows that give the area life? Maybe I’ll wander into a stand of willows where the grasses are all mashed down from a moose that chose to bed there. Crossing a dew filled meadow at first light when the sound of an elk bugle pierces the early morning silence heightens your senses and creates an instinctual sense of wonder as you seek out the wildlife that live there.
On more than one occasion I’ve passed on animals early in the hunt for no other reason than I wasn’t ready for the “hunt” to be over. You see, it’s not about the kill, which always saddens my heart to take an animals life, but I understand the science-based conservation which supports hunting and I know the nutritional value of my harvest. For the western hunter, the work truly doesn’t start until an animal has been taken. The process of breaking down the animal so that its protein rich meat can be packed out (most often) on my back can be exhausting if nothing else. But the satisfaction that comes when I’m able to literally put meat on the table to feed my family is beyond compare.
I know from experience that hunting calms your mind, nourishes your body and renews your soul. Why else would one endeavor through the hardships of a season; being cold, wet, tired, and at times mentally and physically exhausted? I truly believe it’s because the rewards, all of them, are exponentially worth the effort and hunters benefit from those rewards long after the season has come to a close.
Tim Lozano, Colorado