Monday, February 24, 2014

Why Hunt? Is Hunting for me? (Part 1)

When considering a new activity, what’s the first thing you might ask yourself? "What is this about?" and "What’s involved?" Likely questions if you’re anything like me. This series will help you answer these questions if you’re considering hunting game animals from a wheelchair.

If you have not hunted before, or if you’re returning to the outdoors sporting a set of wheels, this series is for you. You’ll learn how to prepare for a hunt and how to improve your odds in the field. Each week I’ll provide insights from hard won experience and the knowledge gained from successful outings.

This week I’m covering reasons why people hunt.

People hunt for many reasons; a sense of adventure, connecting with family and friends in the outdoors, supporting wildlife conservation, feeding their family, or often, all of the above. I certainly do it for all those reasons.

Getting into wild nature is an adventure. You’re off-road, you’re out of your comfort zone, and you’re definitely not living a routine. It takes planning and effort to get out there, but once you’re there, you might wonder how you lived without it. You’ll feel the adrenaline again while hunting in the great outdoors --guaranteed! And you never know what you’ll see out there.

During my 2012 elk hunt, a small calf came within twenty feet of our position. He sauntered around, chirping and looking at us with little care, too young to be afraid. He dipped his head to nibble on grass and other edibles. Then finding an icy puddle, he worked his hoof into the frozen crust until finally breaking through. He lapped up the water for a few minutes and then with a final bleet, made his way toward his mother hidden among the trees. We felt privileged to witness natural behaviours while being only feet away. That experience alone made the effort worthwhile. 

Speaking of "we", you’ll likely need your buddies along if you decide to hunt. I have friends in chairs who hunt independently, but they’re a rare breed. I highly recommend going out with experienced hunters who understand your needs and limitations. Especially the first few excursions. They should be level headed and have a keen sense of risk and reward. As a wheelchair user, you have a vulnerability they don’t have. You need to select people you trust wholeheartedly. Pick the right people, and you’ll be swapping great stories for years.

Hunting is under appreciated for its support of conservation. Sportsmen and women do the heavy lifting when it comes to funding habitat preservation and wildlife management. It’s often said that, "Hunting is conservation." True statement. The fees for licenses, applications, tags, access and voluntary fund raising are the primary source of environmental conservation dollars in the United States. By hunting, you help preserve habitat, wildlife and the opportunity for future generations to enjoy the wilderness.

A more appreciated aspect of hunting is enjoying the harvest. Successful hunting puts meat in the freezer. Better yet, meat free of hormones and antibiotics. This is organic eating all the way. The lower fat quantities in game meat also provide a healthier source of protein than beef.

These are a few reasons why people enjoy hunting. It's natural, it's invigorating and it's healthy. Not a bad way to spend time in wild nature. It may be tougher from a wheelchair, but it's done every season by those willing to push a little harder.

Part two of this post will pose three important questions to folks who have never hunted. 



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