The most valuable hunting and trapping tool that I own is my mind. What’s that you say? How about your .308? Your .22 rifle? Or your conibear traps? Those are great, but without the first tool, the latter are useless. I cannot hunt or trap effectively without knowledge and skill, both hard wired into my brain.
Today, my mind has recognized that some viewers of my blog do not like dead animal pictures, so I will try to articulate why I hunt/trap in the hope that they set aside their disdain and can take a glimpse into the “natural” world. With trapping season only days away and hunting season already upon us, the volume of dead animal pictures on this blog will soon be on the rise. I would say this post is not for the hunters and trappers, but in reality it is for both sides of the argument. To the hunter I say “why not more?” and to the non-hunter I say “why not?”.
And with that prelude I give you the “Top 7 Reasons” why I hunt and trap.
1. I enjoy it – Plain and simple. All the reasons below are ancillary to the fact that when I am in the woods hunting, trapping, or foraging it feels right, almost spiritual in a way. I do not view myself apart from nature, but part of it. When I take the life of an animal, respectfully and humanely, I am just participating in the “circle of life”. Whether I am uprooting a plant or shooting an animal, to me they are one in the same.
Like many, I have felt that I was born centuries too late, but that is a cop out. Participating in the absurdity of modern society is a choice. If you want a simpler lifestyle, then do it. Hunt, trap, fish, forage, and grow your own garden. I promise you, the satisfaction of self-reliant hobbies is highly rewarding.
2. Subsistence – I am a meat hunter and trapper. At our house, we only cook wild game that I hunt, trap, or catch. If we go out to dinner or eat at a friend’s, I will eat what is available, but that’s it. I am able to pack my freezer with deer, hogs, coons, squirrels, turtles, frogs, fish, and a few other critters that keep me fed year round.
3. Health – Organic, free range meat. I am not into hormones, anti-biotics, and all the other crap associated with factory farming. Since I butcher and process everything myself, I have direct control over the sanitary conditions and handling of my food. A big plus in my book.
4. Cost – Debatable. One could argue that I save money by having no grocery bill for organic meat, expensive if you haven’t looked lately. The counter argument would be the opportunity cost of not working during those hunting hours and all the meat that could be purchased by my wages. I would then argue that my happiness while living off the land needs to be factored in, greatly increasing my stance and making it a win in my book.
5. Ethics – “Bunny-hugger” vs. “Bambi-killer”. “Meat-eater” vs. “Vegetarian” What is ethical when it comes to taking the life of any living creature, plant or animal? We cannot exist without taking energy from another source, but we can choose how we do it. My wife is a vegetarian, both for health and moral reasons, and I can respect that. However, if you oppose hunting and trapping for meat, and are not a vegetarian, then I will politely challenge your integrity and point you towards the garden.
Personally, I do not like the unnatural conditions animals are subjected to under factory farming conditions, so I choose to reduce my support of “Big Farma”. That leaves three options for meat: hunt & trap, raise livestock myself, or buy free range, organic meat. All good options, but hunting and trapping edge out the others in my situation, i.e. plenty of hunting opportunities, a “bunny-hugger” wife that would protest me killing the family hog, etc.
But how can hunting and trapping be “humane”? Sometimes it is not, but neither is nature. Pain and death are an ever present force in nature, just ask any prey species. I would like to say that all the animals I kill have a swift, painless death, but that is not always true. Modern trapping has come a long way in the area of animal welfare, but there is still the Murphy factor that sometimes comes out to play. Have I lost game over the years? A few, but I continually work on my tracking skills and have to point out that nothing in nature goes to waste. My take is that the brief pain that I cause a creature is part of nature and better than living a cramped existence for months in a cage or pen. “Humane” in my book is the intent to make the kill quickly and efficiently.
6. Conservation – Carrying capacity, over-population, tradition, economics, etc. I learned all the arguments in my wildlife college classes, but the big fact remains that wildlife management and conservation efforts in your state are funded by hunters, trappers, and fishermen. If you like seeing songbirds, turkeys, river otters, deer, elk, etc. then thank a sportsman, because their license purchases paid the bill for the wildlife management programs that either reintroduced those species or are protecting them.
Some of the species I hunt and trap are either non-native or cause damage to property. Want land to hunt or trap? Just offer to take care of a landowners feral hog, beaver, or coyote problem. Those three species have opened the door to some of the best hunting spots I have.
7. Self-reliance – Like gardening, homesteading, and the like, hunting and trapping promotes self-reliance. Coupled with gardening, raising livestock, and a food storage program, putting meat on the table from hunting and trapping is just one more skill that keeps the real “Spirit” of this country alive.
Resources for non-hunters/trappers: This blog. Keep reading it. You will learn some stuff about hunting, trapping, butchering, and cooking a variety of game. Check out your States DNR site for hunter’s education classes and other info: http://www.huntfishsport.com/web.aspx?cmd=dnr
Resources for hunters/trappers: Realize that you are an ambassador for our lifestyle. Question yourself why you do what you do and don’t act like a fool. Be able to express it to non-hunters in a logical way. We live in different times and the future of hunting and trapping is in our hands. Since you have the skills, unplug from the system and feed yourself. Teach someone to hunt. Watch a video on factory farming and see if you want to support that industry.
**Disclaimer – This post is in reference to the role of hunting and trapping in my personal life. Professionally, I hunt and trap as part of a damage control program focused on feral hogs, which has it’s own controversies. That said, past and future pictures of feral hogs are from legal hunting on private land and are not associated in any way with my employer.