Why We Hunt...
For us here at PNWild, hunting isn’t just a hobby that we partake in a couple weekends out of the year, it’s a way of life. It consumes our thoughts at all hours of the day. I could think of a thousand reasons to support this topic of “why we hunt” but, to keep this brief, I’m going to stick to a few of my favorite reasons. First off, it fulfills the need for adventure and gives us the opportunity to explore some of the most breathtaking country. Most of which has only been seen by the native wildlife and those who are brave enough to seek these remote parts of the woods. Another, simply, is food. In today’s world very few people actually know where their food comes from and how it’s been handled. We as hunters KNOW where our food comes from, how it was cared for, and exactly what it is we are providing for ourselves, our families, and our friends. Equally as important as the first two reasons is conservation. We want to see all wildlife flourish and live in healthy environments rich in all the things they require to keep their species healthy. It is our deepest desire to see to it that all future generations have as much opportunity or more than we do to enjoy the bounty that Mother Nature can provide. Showing the utmost respect for the game we pursue and the public lands where we hunt is something we take pride in.
Waterfowl hunting and trolling for salmon with my dad in the Puget Sound is what ignited my passion for the outdoors. A pink sunrise coming over the mountains, whistling wings overhead, and frozen fingers are memories that will stay with me forever. I eventually harvested my first buck at the age of 20 and I was immediately hooked on big game hunting. Just a couple years later, I met a kid by the name of Jeff Roberts and found out that he loved hunting just as much as I did. Since then we have been on some crazy adventures together and have harvested some great animals. One memory that stands out from the others is when we hiked into a remote wilderness in the Washington high country in search of mule deer. We were seeing bucks which drove us to keep hiking further and further until we realized the sun was starting to go down, it’s crazy how the time can fly when you are hot on the tracks of mule deer bucks. With only a days worth of food and gear, we knew there was no way we’d make it back to the truck before dark, and the risk of hiking out in this terrain was unsettling. Temperatures were dropping and daylight was fading. We had to find shelter, fast. On the way up the mountain I remember seeing a small cave, cut out from a huge rock face that we were climbing. This was to be our home for the night. Luckily, we had some fire starters and with the aid of some limbs from a dried up deadfall we had a small bonfire to keep us warm. It was a long sleepless night to say the least. Snow started to fall and it seemed like every half hour one of us would have to go gather more wood to re-stoke the fire. Finally, the sun began creeping over the ridge tops and we were saddled under our packs again. Hiking back up to where we had seen bucks the day before, we sat down and glassed for a while. “Buck!” Without wasting any time we went after him. I was able to get within shooting range but of course the young buck did not want to stay still and I never got a shot off. Heading towards where we had seen the deer crest the ridge we kicked up a different deer along the way. Instantly we could both tell he was a shooter buck and without hesitation, Jeff torched one off. The shot echoed throughout the hills and then nothing but silence. Thank goodness for snow because we found maybe two drops of blood total and continued to follow his tracks until we walked up on what we’d come so far to get our hands on. A dead high mountain muley. It’s times like these that make all of the hard work worth it. Throughout the years Jeff, Zack, and myself have harvested elk, deer, and bear. With each animal comes a story filled with laughs, tears, and memories that will last a lifetime. This is why we hunt.
Do you know where your last meal actually came from and how it was handled? Chances are, you don’t. This is something that people don’t put much thought into nowadays. Nearly half of the living adult population has a chronic disease and seventy percent of adults are overweight. I think diet and lifestyle play a huge role in that. Hunting is great exercise and a healthy lifestyle. With hard work and a good chunk of luck you’ll be able to fill your freezer every year with the ultimate free range, organic protein, wild game. Species like elk, deer, bear, etc., are not only fun to hunt but they also make great table fare. Seared backstraps on a hot grill from any of these animals is tough to beat. One of my new favorite meals that my wife cooks is cauliflower rice casserole with ground meat. We use either ground elk or venison. Aside from being delicious, these meats are packed with nutrients, higher in protein and lower in fat when compared to even grass fed beef. While satisfying your taste buds you’ll also benefit from the high amounts of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Wild game produces leaner, healthier options as opposed to commercial animals. Commercial food starts in crowded feedlots, which are narrow environments that hundreds of thousands of animals are confined in tiny spaces. They are fed corn in giant troughs, not grass. They then defecate and urinate next to where they eat as they aren’t even given the space needed to move away from their food source. There is disease that occurs when you have these huge concentrations of animals living next to one another. So they’re given antibiotics and also injected with nutrients to keep them alive. They’re also given growth hormones for mass production, bigger animals equals more money. Remember, you are consuming everything that animal consumed as well, so everytime you eat that commercially sourced protein, you are consuming all the things that went into that animal. Pretty gross if you ask me. You can rest assured that what you harvest in the field is free of antibiotics and growth hormones, and that what you are consuming is completely natural and organic. Hunting and consuming meat you harvested also has less of a footprint on the environment. I think we can all agree that factory farming is bad for the environment and unethical. This is why we hunt.
Hunting is conservation. Groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, Pheasants Forever, The Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance, and many more have done amazing things for our wildlife and public lands. Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901 and created the United States Forest Service (USFS) to help protect wildlife and public lands. He used his power to established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks and 18 national monuments. 230 million acres of public lands were established during his presidency and 150 million acres of that land was set aside as national forests. Teddy was a passionate hunter and had the same goal as the majority of hunters have today. We all strive for plenty of wildlife and land for us and future generations to enjoy. Have you ever thought about where your money goes when you buy tags and a hunting license? Through state licenses and fees, hunters pay $796 million a year for conservation programs. That’s a lot of money! It’s also interesting to see how far the wildlife numbers have come since regulations and game management has been set in place. In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Today there are more than 1 million. In 1900, only 500,000 whitetail deer remained. Today there are more than 32 million. Those are just a couple of the many species that have made a significant comeback thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters. Another interesting fact is an 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows generates $371 million a year for conservation. I just can’t imagine where wildlife and our public lands would be today if it weren’t for hunters. Again, this is why we hunt.
“Theodore Roosevelt and Conservation” nps.gov 11/16/17 2/25/18
“25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation” rmef.org January 2013 2/25/18
Whether you agree with it or not, hunting is part of who we are as human beings. We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time and only in recent years we have started to rely on grocery stores and other people for our food. Slowly we have been losing the skills that we’ve developed over millions of years to hone in our craft of hunting. My daughters just turned a year old and my wife and I plan on introducing them to the outdoors and the tradition of hunting. If they chose not to hunt I am totally fine with that. But they will understand where their food came from and why their Dad has made the decision to be a hunter. This is why we hunt.