Every season brings new challenges and reflection from seasons past. We change our outlook on hunting and the reasons we are there while re-aligning our experiences with the things we hope to achieve. If someone, anyone, were to ask you why you hunt, what would you say?
There are five stages of the hunter recognized by the hunting community:
Stage one: The shooting stage
This is the stage most of us start out in. I used to beg my Dad to take me out in the yard to shoot tin cans with his .22 and when he went to work I would beg my Mom to let me take my Red Ryder BB gun out to knock those same cans over. Shooting is the platform for good hunting later.
Stage two: The Limiting-out stage
This is the stage we naturally migrate to once we become proficient shooters. It is great to test our shooting skills as we develop the skills we need to hunt. Filling our tags and limiting out is our measure of success in this stage.
Stage Three: The selective stage
Once we get the jitters out and prove to ourselves we can limit out and fill tags, the hunt becomes more about shooting mature animals or challenging ourselves in some way. Picking the green heads out of a flock of ducks becomes more important than shooting our limit. Looking for a four point whitetail buck and passing on the fork horns becomes our focus. The quality of the animals we take becomes the focus.
Stage Four: The method stage
After achieving success on challenging game and being selective it becomes important to further challenge ourselves in the field. Here hunters my choose a particular hunting method or firearm. Choosing a muzzle loading rifle over a center fire rifle or a bow over either. Further method restrictions could be using a recurve or long bow and taking it a step further some hunters may choose to use self bows and wood arrows. In this stage the challenge of the hunt takes precedence over the number of animals.
Stage Five: The philosopher stage
Passing our hunting heritage on to others is the only way to keep our cherished study of wildlife and outdoor experiences embedded in our culture. In this stage, the hunter values the outdoor experience with others over every other aspect of hunting. Helping others achieve success is the measure of the philosophers own success. This is the stage where we can all look back and remember someone who influenced us – who took the time to pass their knowledge on.
Whatever stage you are in, be safe, have fun and enjoy the people you are with. The hunting experience is about accurate shooting, bagging game, challenging ourselves and passing our love of the outdoors on to others.
Why do YOU hunt? Let us know!