Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is not what I'm striving for this year...

Unless I happen to stumble across one as nice or nicer before I shoot the first legal buck I see during muzzleloader or rifle season. This year I'm hunting strictly for meat. Headgear will not make its way into the equation this season, nor will the kind of serious in-stand/blind time I've done in years past. Provided I have the opportunity to do so, the first two bucks and the first four does I see will be going in the freezer. No questions, no hesitation, no contemplation.

The question is, why? Why would a guy who fell in love with the bow and bowhunting the first time he picked one up as a teenager let the first two weeks of the Oklahoma archery season pass by without so much as an afternoon in the woods? Why would a guy who last year let any number of nice, eminently shootable bucks walk during rifle season suddenly decide this year to shoot whatever passes by first?

And the answer is, I really don't know. I can't put my finger on any one compelling reason. I certainly haven't lost my desire to hunt big game, but I do think maybe I've lost, or at least I'm losing, my desire to hunt according to what I see as the increasingly artificial, frenetic, misplaced and generally fucked up mores, ideals and attitudes of the American big-game hunting scene.

That is a fairly predictable and certainly un-original lament, so I see no reason to get pedantic or preachy about it.

 And while it may seem as such, it's not a judgement or a condemnation of others. That's simply how I see it for myself. Therein lies the beauty of hunting: it is, ultimately, whatever you want it to be, and it means whatever you want it to mean.

It just so happens that increasingly I'm finding that what it means to me is at odds with what it means to everyone else, so I must find my clarity in the simple, easy-to-understand act of killing large animals solely for the sake of one's food. Perhaps somewhere along the way I'll manage to find the rest of what I've apparently lost.

In the meantime, I will find my solace in dogs, birds, ducks and boys. And that's not a bad place to be.


  1. My zeal for waterfowling has also toned down my interest in deer hunting.

  2. I sometimes wonder how many fawn deer make it to adulthood, In raptors there is a 70% mortality rate in the first year alone. Because of this we dont touch the adult birds for falconry as they are the breading stock. It seems strange to me to kull out the mature bucks and does leaving the young ones, it would make more sense to keep the mature animals as your breeding stock.

  3. Shooting a few rabbits or a good squirrel hunt is a fogotten pleasure, maybe you should try to work one in.

  4. Main Line, ducks trump everything else for me too.

    But Chad, are you sure your feelings are out of synch with everyone else's out there, or just out of synch with what the marketers want us all to strive for? I know very, very few people who are obsessed with racks (on deer, anyway). I think you're not as weird as you think. At least not in this respect.

  5. Sometimes it's good just to get back to basics and the hell with living up to other people's expectations. The hunt should be about your own experience, and the values and goals that drive that experience are constantly in flux. Go with it.

  6. As far as big game I have been a simple meat hunter FOREVER.

    We will now discuss publishability...

  7. Hi Chad,
    When all is said and done you should go with your instinct and, as Holly says, not with "what the marketers want us all to strive for". Putting food on the table, in my opinion, is the finest of reasons for the hunt. Wishing you every success in your hunt my good man.

  8. I can't see anything weird about having meat in the freezer as one's aim and stuff on the walls as a by-product. Having the getting of stuff for the walls as one's primary aim though, and shooting animals to achieve this - I guess that's a kind of pure virile display.

    That said, if I do anything much my advertised aims are there very often just to prettify the tangle of my half-understood drives and wishes - a kind of a PR job on my more obscure motivations.

    I'm happy to have something to eat when I've successfully gone shooting - but I also know that I get a lot of (arguably peculiar) pleasure out of being seen as 'someone who hunts'.

    I don't think I can just erase the side of me that wants to make this kind of display - I tend just to go 'yeah, well, that's me alright'...


  9. Sounds, to me, more like you found something, rather than lost something.

  10. Ditto on NorCal's, Phillip's, Murphyfish's, and Josh's comments.

  11. Chad

    There a a quote, attributed to an Indian warrior/philosopher that basically says something along the lines of: 'when you've, ruined the land, and taken all the other forms of hunting away from me, i will hunt mice, it's just the way i roll'

    I'm off to the woods air arms in hand to try for some squirrels. There's no such thing as a trophy squirrel, but then again with my success rate every squirrel is a trophy.


  12. SBW, I love that British translation! You might be even more excited about the quotation because he (Sitting Bull) was talking about freedom.

  13. "...because I am a hunter and a free man" is the end of the quote I think.

  14. Sorry for the delay in responding, everyone. Been away from the computer for a few days. Thanks for all the comments.

    Norcal, it's not just specifically the emphasis on racks that bothers me, although that's certainly part of it, rather , it's the whole (for lack of a better term) "scene" that I'm just sorta, I dunno, tired of.

    I honestly suspect a lot of my feelings have to do with the artificiality of it all and the desire to get back to something genuine and honest and enjoyable and real and spontaneous and with a clearly-defined purpose, i.e. putting food on the table.

    And I think if I can concentrate on that, all those undefinable intangibles that first bewitched about deer hunting me will come back.

    And Steve, I'm rapidly forgetting what "publishability" even is any more...