Sunday, September 16, 2007

Looking for Hunting

For many years I was not a hunting enthusiast. Oh I enjoyed hunting with my father early in life, and looked forward to that season when we started getting ready for picking our zone, picking the camp ground, sighting in our rifles and getting our tags. The places in northern California we went were remote and exciting. Sometimes we went to campgrounds we could drive to, but my most fond memories were in the Trinity Wilderness area. We had to hike four miles into the wilderness area to set up camp at Lillypad Lake. Though we also did plenty of bow hunting, both bucks that I have gotten were with rifles near that lake in the Poison Canyon basin of the Trinity Alps.

I enjoyed hunting with my father, and later went along more for the fellowship than for my own enjoyment of hunting. However, that attitude toward hunting is starting to change in me. I can sense an internal migration toward a growing interest in hunting for its own sake. I can't pinpoint it very well. It's possible that at this period in my life I'm developing an appetite for what my father used to call "ecological participation." Or maybe I am seeking to carry on the legacy of woodsmanship and hunting that my father started.

It's possible, though, that an entirely different force is at work. It could be that I'm intuitively sensing such an integrated network of potential benefits from the hunting experience, that need not be directly related to killing the deer, that I'm attracted to the activity that uniquely bring those benefits to bear. The fellowship of those hunting is certainly a factor, but it's much more than that; for fellowship can be achieved in a variety of ways. Woodsmanship and connection to the Earth is certainly a benefit, but it's more than that too; for woodsmanship is achievable without necessarily carrying a weapon and using it to harvest the game animal. The concentration needed while in the hunt certainly can have a meditative effect, quieting the mind, ceasing one's striving and making way to know God better. The attention to care and safety can develop maturity. The rigors of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills to achieve the right harvest certainly can have myriad proverbial benefits. And we must not neglect the familial connections that are facilitated through such ventures. But none of these, by themselves, seem to capture an adequate reasoning for enthusiasm for hunting.

Perhaps... No; rather I suspect this is so. It's the manner in which hunting uniquely brings the above mentioned list of benefits together that justifies its pursuit. For this reason I'm increasingly developing an interest to exhume hunting from the its burial place in my mind, and examine it anew. In addition, I'm drawn to the gear that hunting requires: rifles, tents, maps, stoves, clothes, etc. Recently, while visiting Cabela's, I was looking for lots of hunting gear, with an eye for what my boys and I will need to participate in deer season in Texas in next year. Now that my own father is retired I hope he'll be able to join us. In any case though, we'll be ready to safely, responsibly and joyfully engage all of those benefits that result from participating in the ecology God has created and given for such blessings that we will receive through it.

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