Hunting is one of those pleasures that you won't understand if you have to have it explained, which is good because folks who enjoy it can't fully explain why.
Obviously hunting is more than shooting animals. As the philosopher Ortega y Gassett said, one doesn't hunt in order to kill, one kills in order to have hunted.
If hunters were really bloodthirsty killers, they could buy a barn full of chickens and get a whole lot more bloodletting for their dollar than the average pheasant hunt yields.
Hunting is more than a pastime or an autumn ritual for some; it's a way of life. Dedicated hunters see the world with a special perspective. When they drive through farmland they don't see wheat fields and pastures, they see lost upland bird habitat. When they tour a new shopping mall, they don't see new businesses, they see destroyed deer habitat. When they pass a forest, they don't see trees, they see bedding cover, travel routes and feeding sites.
Hunters live for the first cold front of September. They listen for the cry of snow geese on a blustery October night. They inhale the scent of rotting leaves, watch for tracks in the mud and curse meteorologists for predicting another warm, dry November day. Hunters don't brace themselves to withstand nature, they welcome her.
To be healthy and hungry in the wilds is the way of the hunter. He strips himself of society's insulating layers of artificiality and becomes a player, a predator alive on a primal level. No longer just an observer, the hunter becomes an integral, working part of nature.
Being a part of it, that's the thing.
Ron Spomer is a writer/photographer who lives in Moscow, Idaho. The above was excerpted from "Why Hunt," in Wildlife Art News, September/October 1990. Copyright by Ron Spomer.