Monday, March 3, 2014

Is Hunting for me? (Part 2)

Our last post covered why people hunt. This post asks you to consider three important points before deciding to hunt.

Hunting is challenging and can be a fun and rewarding experience. Hunting is also serious business. You’ll kill an animal if successful, you’ll use a deadly weapon, and you’ll face cold temperatures if hunting big game. These elements require serious thought. Let’s go over each one.

You need to search your feelings about killing an animal if you have never hunted. Your gut knows the answer. Honor those feelings. Pretending otherwise is not smart. You’ll feel guilty and you won’t enjoy the experience.

I thought seriously about this issue before applying for my first elk hunt. They are magnificent creatures. Could I kill one? Birds had been my only harvest as a youth. How would I feel about taking a much different animal. I decided to hunt and I’m glad I did. I reconnected with nature in a primal way and I put several hundred pounds of organic elk meat in my freezer. 

There is no shame in realizing hunting is not for you. Listen to your heart. If it’s calling you to the outdoors, honor that call in a different way. Go on a photography tour, an accessible hike or go bird watching. Whatever you do, get out there and support wildlife and habitat conservation and recharge your spirit. You won’t regret it.

Next, you need to discover if you enjoy shooting a weapon. Finding out is challenging for quadriplegics. We need equipment to support our weapons and that is a financial investment; however, it’s important to know if you’re comfortable shooting and that you can do it safely. I assure you that it can be done, even with large caliber rifles if deployed with proper support, a recoil pad and muzzle brake. You must know your capabilities because you’ll practice frequently to increase your odds of a quick, clean kill -- and that only happens with proper shot placement. Paraplegics often use commercial or homemade shooting sticks or get prone on the ground for proper weapon support. I’ll share ideas for inexpensive adaptive equipment in a later article.

All quadriplegics need to be concerned about weather conditions. We get cold easily and we overheat easily. Extreme temperatures must be respected and usually avoided. Being in those conditions is either dangerous or miserable. It’s not worth the risk and discomfort.

Hunting in extreme heat is unlikely unless you’re pursuing early season antelope in Arizona or Wyoming. Most big game hunts are in the fall and winter months. The cold temps will be your challenge. Only you know your tolerance when it drops below freezing.  You must be comfortable for hours at a time while creating little scent and little movement. I’ll share a few solutions I used while hunting in twenty degree temps. It was not fireside warmth, but it was tolerable.

Hunting is a way to reconnect with nature. It's challenging and rewarding but it's not for everyone. If you think you can make the kill, but need more information about equipment and managing field conditions, follow along to discover how creative adaptations can lead to success.

Next week I’ll provide details about future topics. Here’s the line-up:

  • What the Series Will Cover: In Depth
  • Learn About Game Animals and Their Hunting Environments
  • How to Apply for a Hunt
  • Selecting A Weapon
  • Determining Needed Adaptations
  • Setting Up Your Weapon: Getting Dialed In
  • Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Preparing for the Weather
  • Scouting: Technology is Your Friend
  • Out in the Field: Blinds and Cover
  • Success! Now What?
  • Meat Processing
  • Taxidermy
  • Helpful Organizations and Resources

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back next week!


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