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How do you define hunting when you’re trying to explain the concept to someone who doesn’t partake in it?

When you look in Webster’s Dictionary, hunting is defined as the act of pursuing game for food or sport.  The definition of hunting sounds simple enough, yet we often struggle to find the words that define what hunting truly means to us.  We understand the feeling that it gives us, the adrenaline rush and respect for God’s creation.  Most days we are just happy to be outdoors and are grateful to have the opportunity to take part in it.

Oftentimes, I hear hunting being called a sport, hobby, pastime, or even a way of life.  But what is hunting really?

Is hunting a sport?  Well, let’s check Webster’s Dictionary and define exactly what a sport is.  According to the dictionary, a sport is a physical activity engaged in for pleasure.  This would certainly fit the definition of hunting for some.  Hunting gives me pleasure and provides a sense of release from the outside world and a way to connect with the wildlife around me.  When you think of hunting as a sport, you probably think of practicing with your equipment and training your bodies to scale tall mountains or climb tall trees in search of wild game.  So hunting could be a sport.

Is hunting a hobby?  How does Webster define a hobby?  A hobby is a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.  Ok, I can see how this could fit the mold.  We spend our hard-earned money on expensive gear pursuing game each fall and we hope to have success in the field also.  All of the work that we put in during the off-season brings us to the opening day of the season and we find ourselves perched in a treestand as the sunrises, thanking God for all that he’s blessed us with.  Hunting could be defined as a hobby.  But when we turn on our TVs we see people hunting as their occupation and as a result, they make money in advertising certain products or for companies.  For some of us, hunting could be a hobby.  So could sewing too.

Is hunting a pastime?  Back to Webster’s, we go.  A pastime is an activity that you enjoy doing during your free time.  Wow, isn’t that a broad definition that involves multiple activities?  I could think of a million things that fit the definition of a pastime but defining hunting by such a broad definition doesn’t seem right to me.  Some people enjoy mowing their lawns during their free time or, if you’re like me, you like to watch UFC fights.  I can’t define hunting as just a pastime.  Hunting means too much to me.

Is hunting a way of life?  I’ll take it from here Webster!  For many of us, hunting isn’t just a pastime that we partake in only a couple of days a year.  For some, it’s a 365-day-a-year process that blends experience, education, ethics, love, and devotion toward one goal, pursuing game.  Whether you enjoy chasing mule deer in the west or you choose to hunt whitetails from a treestand, you have to admit, there’s something magical about the sport of hunting.  The connection you feel with nature isn’t by mistake.  We’ve evolved as a society to a time where the majority of mankind will never be as connected to mother nature as you are when you’re sitting on top of a mountain, as the sun peaks over the horizon, and listening for the first gobble of the morning!  It’s these experiences that encapsulate us into coming back each season and devoting our lives and our free time to perfecting our craft, whether it be with archery equipment or a firearm, we are HUNTERS, we are CONSERVATIONISTS!

However you define hunting, know this.  Hunting is killing!  Yes, it is the unfortunate side effect of a successful hunt.  Whether you are pursuing deer, bear, or squirrels, the result is still the same if you are successful, you must take one of God’s beautiful creatures from the earth in order to fill your tag.  This is how hunting is defined by a society that doesn’t partake in it.  However, we must find ways to share our hunting experiences with the rest of the world on a positive note and learn to truly define what hunting means to us.

Once we can define hunting for ourselves, only then can we help others connect the benefits of hunting to the act of killing.  When we do this, it will help us recruit new hunters and hopefully convince the anti-hunting community that hunting has its place in our society and is a proven conservation method that we can use to ensure the success of our wildlife for generations to come.


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