You know what we need more of? Participating in hunting in a way that fits your mold. No one else’s. If it makes you happy, is ethical, and legal…go for it. Like big bucks? Let the little ones walk. Like meat in the freezer? Shoot the first thing that comes by. Prefer archery? Get that stick and string out! Come out once a year for the gun opener? Have your orange ready and get after it. We are all different and as hunters we should embrace that. For that matter, if we weren’t all different there would only be one caliber to hunt with, one broad head to use, and we might still be sporting red buffalo check as our favorite camo (or worse a loin cloth!).
None of the aforementioned scenarios is right or wrong. I could go on for pages about different types, styles, methods, locations, etc. If you like going old school with buck skin, do it. If you like hunting from cushy blinds that you just rode your 4 wheeler too and parked under, go for it. Perhaps you prefer to pack miles in on public land for a chance of some self-checking, all power to you. I have read some really good articles and more recently posts on this topic. I think it’s one that should be touched on periodically just as a reminder. We are all on the same team. We don’t have to be best buds, but we should at a minimum be respectful to one another. Preferably, we all come together to enjoy and preserve our favorite pastime.
I’ll give some examples I’ve personally lived out so you don’t think I’m just throwing generalizations out there. I have preferences, but adapting too and accepting others has only helped me along the way to experience hunting to it’s fullest extent.
I once went to Pennsylvania to hunt black bears. Two instances during that trip stand out that follow along with my point. First, I got to try something I’ve never done before and secondly another fellow hunter could have gotten upset and ruined everybody’s day. Up to that point in my life I had hunted big game primarily by finding a promising spot and sitting still. This particular group utilized a camp of approx. 20 people and performed orchestrated bear drives. At first, I was hesitant thinking that I wanted to do this on my own. As the trip went on though I began to realize this was the way it was done over there. Success rates are extremely low and driving the bear through the unbearably (pun intended) thick mountain laurel stacked what little odds we had in our favor. After participating I can see that my initial thoughts about wanting to do it myself were completely counterintuitive to the whole concept. The camp functioned as one with everyone succeeding if anyone was successful. The other event during that trip that stands out was the hunter that was quietly posted on the mountainside as our group of 10 or so pushers noisily passed by. I’m sure he had snuck into his spot as stealthily as he could and set up at an ambush point that he felt put him in the best position to kill an unsuspecting and unalarmed bear. Obviously, we were ruining that moment for him. However, he and my group both had every right to be doing what we were doing where we were doing it. Fortunately, he accepted this and remained silent as we passed. His reaction to our method averted a potentially negative situation.
One of my elk hunting partners is an absolute go getter. By that I mean the higher and further the better. I must admit that hunting with him pushed me to be a better elk hunter. While I was fairly satisfied that we had either packed in on horses or hiked in several miles from the trail head to set up camp, he always wanted to go further. His desire and commitment to completely separate himself from any other hunters and simply go where he felt the elk would be more prevalent really stood out to me. Frankly, he kept seeing more elk than me. Getting out of my comfort zone and hunting his way not only made me a stronger person, but increased my potential of finding more animals. Had I stuck to my ways, I would have missed out on some really great opportunities to learn and grow as a hunter. Along the same lines, during an elk trip, we had a group of hunters who had the same idea but with no apparent plan. By that, they had hiked in a significant distance and were clearly committed to burning boot leather to find the elk. The thing my party noticed was that they were everywhere. It didn’t matter where we went, they always seemed to be cruising through. They burned through every square inch within sight. Constantly on the move they had to be pushing any elk we may have seen well into the next unit. However, just like us, it was public land and they owned just as much of it as us. While we weren’t particularly thrilled with their method, we respected their right to be there and simply smiled and waived as they passed (albeit multiple times in multiple locations).
I have another hunting partner who has never killed a deer with his bow. He’s got a few to his name but none with the stick and string. I’ve been hunting with him for a couple years now and he has no desire to break out a firearm just to get back on the board. I admire his dedication to achieving his goal. While I love bowhunting, I also love eating venison. I’m one to use whatever legal means allows me the most time in the woods and meat on the table. But seeing someone make the commitment to using only one weapon until their successful is inspiring. Back to the point of the article, its his hunt. He’s doing his thing and I respect that. The thing is, he respects my stance as well. He has no issue when we hunt together and I bring my gun while he continues to utilize his archery equipment. He could attempt to belittle me for using a gun rather than bow but we simply enjoy the time afield doing our own thing as we each individually prefer. At the end of the day we are both happy and therefore successful in our endeavors.
Reading through just a few of my examples hopefully sheds a little light on things. Do your thing and also keep an open mind to others ideas of their “own” thing. Not only will this help hunters band together but you also just might learn something by embracing the other side. Now is not the time to spread dissent amongst the ranks, rather be joyful and happy for those getting out and doing the things they love. I mentioned the word respect earlier. I believe no other word better sums up how hunters, or humans in general, should treat each other. You don’t have to like it, but if it’s ethical and legal, you should respect it. If you’re still out there hunting your hunt, I wish you good luck!