Maybe the reason for this note is the fact that my buddy and I introduced a good friend to LR yesterday (we shot a 15"x15" steel plate out at 6 and 700 for a few hours in fairly ugly wind), then "double-tapped" a mulie at 545 with simultaneous hits with a 165 Scirocco and a 168 Barnes XLC. The shot was a challenge because we had never tried to hunt "long" together and because of a 10-15 mph full-value crosswind. The deer was dead before his knees buckled.
Reflecting on the two events - introducing our friend (an accomplished hunter) to LR and the taking of the deer - pretty tough to say which was more fun...
I am finding that there is something to the theory that hunters go through a series of stages - each stage somewhat connected to a person's age and amount of hunting opportunity. I am not even sure what these stages are, or if they are accurately determined - someone wrote a story about this once and the concept sticks in my mind. Bottom line for me is that there is something that goes on - for instance killing takes a much lower priority for me than it did at one time.
There seems to be a blend of aging, new challenges (like hitting far-off steel gongs or shooting tight groups in wind), obtaining really good gear and having the time to play with it. I am finding that sharing long range accuracy with others, particularly newcomers, can be as enjoyable as hunting.
Seems to be a different rational as to why I want to hunt and need to hunt.
One over-riding factor in these changing times is the fact that hunting and firearms ownership just isn't simple any more. Too many rules, regulations, concerns. My friend Tony Knight told me, "They are taking the fun out of hunting..." and I believe that he hit it on the head.
"THEY" range from our elected governments to anti-hunters/gunners to someone who's opinions are swayed by a half-wit reporter on CNN. I used to live in a society that did not ask the questions that seem to hang in the air all the time nowadays. I am not going to get into the future of our sport - just don't feel like going there.
I enjoy Len's gift a lot, we are all very fortunate to share this site. We really do owe him one for this. I enjoy the info exchange about equipement and techniques, the opportunity to learn from guys who share so much so willingly.
I just thought that I would mention that there is another side to our sport that we all encounter individually - the for-mentioned "stages" and the changes that most of you will probably encounter. This is not foreboding or unenjoyable - it is simply a fact of life.
I darn near agreee with everything you said... Although I am only 35 I went through this transformation about 8 years ago.. where killing just wasn't the "goal" anymore. Taking in your souroundings, getting away from the everyday "grind". Sharing the opportunities with a friend or friends. This part became more and more important.
Matter of fact I just extended an invitation to 2 friends for the expierinece of a lifetime. Hopefully you'll read about it here first. Without going into the details. I could have picked numerous others to take this opportunity but after meeting these guys and sharing so much in person and on this board.. I could think of 2 better people...
I guide the same way... it is not about the "kill", thats just icing on the cake as far as I am concerned. It IS ABOUT the whole experience and sharing of that entire experience!
I agree and couldn't have never said it better. For me the appreciation of the whole hunting experience really came in the last decade when success was really common and I could stop and smell the roses so to speak, up until then it was more of a make it happen instead of let it happen and enjoy while doing what you can to extend your opportunities.
On one hand I still enjoy hunting alone, but the experience shared with others is becoming more rewarding. This site of Lens and the people here have changed my outlook in leaps and bounds. I feel very fortunate to be able to share the company, ideas and experiences of the people here alot.
We have a republican governor up here now so his appointies to the board of game will undoubtedly help keep our hunting and access rights for everone available for a while.
Agreed. Illinois has a great danger ahead for hunters, shooters, & firearms owners in general after the last election. Although I've spent a good deal of time outdoors over the past few decades, it's not nearly as much as I'd like. Life intervenes.
Like the others here, a hunt isn't about killing. I've bowhunted for 10 years and never even released an arrow at a deer even though I've had many stationary directly under my stand or even bedded down within range. I've passed on every deer I've had the opportunity, the ability, but NOT the desire to kill - under those unique circumstances. I realize I'm lucky enough to be more patient than most.
For an adult, the hunt IS about the total experience, not the act of killing as an end to a means. It's one of the most tragically misunderstood institutions of our age. What was, only a generation ago, a rite of passage; has become an abomination to many & something akin to social ostracism to others. It is a sure sign of the decay of our 'society' that equates the maturity, the responsibility, the ethics, and the morality of hunting and shooting with all that is wrong with our country. 'They' truly do not understand what it and we are all about - and I pity them for it.
Since we're in an introspective mood, I'll throw another thought out at you. One that hits me about this time every year. More of a question that a thought really: what is it that draws us out and together to hunt? Think about it. Although I usually hunt alone, do you not feel a deep urging to link up with a trusted few to cooperate in the hunt? It feels like what a Canada goose must feel when it starts south for the winter, or what a pack of wolves must feel when they stir in the evening to lean their heads back and let out a long mournful howl before they head out. It's something ancient and reassuring, a touchstone with generations past. It's also a little sad, the seasons of our lives are slipping past.
We may go for months or even years without seeing or speaking with one of these few friends, but the mere thought of a campfire shared, or even the frosty breath illuminated by the headlights of each others' trucks on opening day is enough to bring a smile, and warm the blood for me. So few women and even 'modern' men understand this. So many today shun those with whom they don't hear from for a few days or weeks, or engage in petty jealousies or rivalries over a perceived slight or threat to their self esteem. What is it that causes us to seek out those who may be from a totally different socioeconomic background or age, yet with an identical sense of ethics, morality, maturity, and responsibility - and bond so completely that words are often unnecessary to communicate?
I apologize for rambling, but, do you all not feel that stirring when you look outside on a moonlit, frosty morning at 4:00AM and think, "Let's HUNT!!!"
Just took hunters education class a few months ago, and we covered the 5 stages of hunters. 1st Shooter Stage(needs alot of shooting), 2nd Limiting out stage(needs to kill a certain number of birds or animals), 3rd Trophy stage(selectivity of game), 4th Method stage(How game is taken is important), and 5th stage, Stortsman stage(satisfaction in total hunting experience). Im still in the first stage, didnt get a chance to go hunting yet, just shooting range.
Your getting real warm on the inner feeling and urges this time of year.
I grew up in PA where we have "Deer Camps" Deer huntng in PA is ...well, like a religion. They close schools in some areas of the state.
Even though I live in Wyo. and the Hunting here is nothing short of a dream. This time every year I get the urge to go back to Pa and walk in to camp to see smiles, laughter, and a uncensored, non-judgmental sense of welocome and belonging. All types of backgrounds, education, employment and social status in the same place and none of that matters. We are all equal and all on the same page. As you said communicate with unspoken words. We all love to Deer Hunt, love to be outdoors with friends and family. We all respect the right to hunt. We all respect the animals we hunt.
I will travel back to PA again this year to be part of the strong tradition and to spend that time with my Father.
That what these do-gooders and tree huggers don't understand.. There is something to the undeniable fact that in generations past and decades ago this was a way of life , a right of passage for some. This urge, this feeling, this need runs deep in the life blood of our soul.
It is the same feelings that these do-gooders don't understand about how we can hunt, take the life of a Monarch Bull, Monster Mulie, or Wise old Whitetail. And yet we all have had the overwhelming sense of excitement as well as a sense of sadness deep in our soul that a majestic creature has given his life. Those kinds will never understand that...
You put in to words the feelings I have had.. Thank you for that.
Wyo, Brent, Speedbump,
Another very special aspect that changes is the importance of the moments immediately after the killing of the animal. Now there is time for a really special moment where several intense emotions seem to flow simultaneously - one of them is regret and that bewilders me a bit. My friend Milo Hanson once told me that he sometimes wished that hunting could have a catch and release aspect to it like fishing does - he shares some of the feelings that I can't describe. You gotta be there to feel them and I believe that any normal human would benefit from experiencing them - it seems to being something we got from our hunter/gatherer ancestors and like it or not - it is still there.
I once listened to an interesting speaker describe his yuppy-wife - the hunter. She is always reading magazines on her favorite topics so that she knows lots about her quarry (catalogs, flyers, fashion magazines). She gets herself ready to go on a hunt (make-up, selected outfit, bank-card etc.), then jumps in her hunting vehicle (mini-van) and travels around looking for an optimum location to start hunting (scouting). When she gets to a good location (shopping mall) she intently stalks each possible habitat (jewelry, ladies wear, shoe-store). She gets super-serious, super alert, not missing anything. Then she puts the final stalk on her selected prey and makes the kill (with her plastic). She admires her trophy as it is going into the designer shopping bag, loads it into the hunting rig and takes off for home (or to a capachino bar) so that she can show her prize to her fellow hunters. All in all she had a hell of a day - hunting.
Funny, but it is hunting, in its own way.