Ian M

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2001
Sask. Canada

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.
Re: Thinkin\'


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!

Again, well said .. Ian

[ 11-17-2002: Message edited by: *WyoWhisper* ]
Re: Thinkin\'

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.
Re: Thinkin\'


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!!!"
Re: Thinkin\'

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.
Re: Thinkin\'


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.

[ 11-18-2002: Message edited by: *WyoWhisper* ]
Re: Thinkin\'

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.
Re: Thinkin\'

This thread has some very good reading in it, thanks to the writers. The state of Washington has a built in "early warning" for other states. We have the largest number of anti-hunting groups compiled with the smallest number of hunters to anti-hunters in the entire nation. Most live over 400 miles away in the Seattle-Puget Sound area. We are talking voters here. And everything is controlled by the vote. Two counties over there can control the entire state just by sheer numbers. Ethics is the issue. If, as with all things, one bad apple can ruin it for the batch then we are in a world of hurt. How can the love of hunting be explained to someone that has no fathom, or interest? Or blatently thinks it is wrong? How do you change someone's mind when they are already angry? You guys have hit on some very strong feelings for most of us. We love our hunting privleges and want to keep them. What do you suggest to say to those hunters out there that are our bad apples? That if they don't change there ways, they're going to ruin it for the whole? This added with the fastest growing population of the 11 western states 2nd to California. Hunting is the one hobby that I have that all my other hobbies shoot off from. I reload because of hunting, same with target shooting, and hiking, otherwise known as preseason scouting! My desire for long range target practice, is for my desire to lengthen my ability to hit at extended ranges. I feel a little confused to the stages. I think I am a mix of all of them. I am interested with the capability of my weapon, I do enjoy harvesting an animal, but its not a must. When harvesting an animal, I am selective. I like the equipment that I use, yet I get the most satisfaction in just the "total hunting experience." There is more, as in Ian's last post, but I think he already said it. Hey MM, I also say a prayer. Always thankful to the lord above.

[ 11-19-2002: Message edited by: littletoes ]
Re: Thinkin\'

For my money, forget about trying to change the bad apples. They have been around forever. They are who the laws were written for and they are the ones on whom the laws should be enforced. Hard.

What you need to do is to convince the political structure that the anti-hunting crowd is misinformed and/or misdirected and prove it.

You are correct that votes count, but hunting is not enough of an issue that an election will be won or lost over it. Therefore, the bureaucrats will control the policies. The game is to make sure the bureaucrats get a bigger penalty (in terms of letters, bad press, etc.) from opposing hunting than from leaving it alone.

Re: Thinkin\'

I hear you. In Colorado we have a similar situation, but not as bad. Most of the voting polulace is in the front range cities of Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs. The last two wildlife related issues that came to vote passed by very narrow margins (Spring bear hunting and trapping). These are all things the Division of Wildlife had the ability to regulate, but are now out of the question and against the law.
Arizona had a ballot issue where any wildlife related issue had to pass by a 2/3 majority... I am pretty sure it did not pass.

I know about the phases of hunting. It used to be all about the kill. Quantity of kill and to not get skunked. Now, a successful hunt is measured in memories. I still strive to do well in the field, but my measurement of success lies within me, not others. I know when I did well wether or not the game cooperated. Sort of like Max talking about becoming a good still hunter, the challenge lies within us all to make ourselves better at some aspect of what we like to do. Success could be measured in meat, horns, the shot, the stories, the country or maybe the introduction of somebody new.
I really look forward to the day when I can live vicariously through my children. My dad exposed me to hunting (thank you), I intend to immerse my son and daughter in it.
Re: Thinkin\'

I have to respond to this topic. Last night I went on a Mule deer hunt with two brothers who are "into the hunt" like the rest of us. We had to chain up a 4X4 pickup to get to a gated road at about 7900 ft.. We hike in a little under a mile and glassed for bucks until dusk. Cold, real cold. Wind, real windy, about 25mph gusting to 40. We spotted some mulies, only one buck. Small, young and 764 yds. away. We stayed on the ridge watching all the critters, hoping that the Holy Grail of the Mule Deer Kingdom would appear. He didn't. But where we were, we could see the whole Jefferson River Valley, and part of the South Boulder. Cloud cover with the sun peeking out here and there until it sunk behind the Highland Mountians, just south of Butte. Breath taking! Rough trip getting home, and yet three very contented hunters. No kill, enjoying each others company, and planing future hunts. Got home. Tired, very tired. But very content. Fired up the PC, looked up this site, and read this topic. Thanks Ian B.
Re: Thinkin\'

I agree with you Ian,

When I was a teenager, I enjoyed killing ground squirrels, porcupines, skunks, badgers, prairie name it, by the bushel basket. Mostly just for the sake of killing.

I don't even own a real varmint rifle now, at 41. It just doesn't get me all giddy anymore.

Killing big game for the meat is something I will always do. But when I was a kid, we let the deer eat from our haystacks without bothering them. So it is a give and take situation.

I enjoy the solitude and immersion into the wilderness aspects of hunting, and non-lethal long distance riflery the most now.

I guess for me personally, I've seen enough death/destruction that it gives me no pleasure to kill an animal anymore. But I will continue to do it for the good eatin. But with a sense of respect and reverence for the critter. When I look in their dead/dying eye, I give them a little silent prayer. Quite a contradiction, but that's where I'm at.

Re: Thinkin\'

Wow.. it is good to hear some of these things being said.. suprized from some, others I expected but very good non-the-less...

I do have to comment on some things...

Littletoes.. as far as the anit's, There are always gonna be some, increasing every where though.. My wife (the young beautiful woman she is) was an anti when I married her.. ( can you beleive that) She grew up in Fla. in a non hunting family. She was never exposed to it. She admitted that she never saw a need for it and it was cruel to kill the way hunters do.. Upon moving here and marrying yours truly.. she saw a side of nature that she never saw before... she saw the over populated deer herd in town with several emaciated deer slowly dieing because of old age and lack of food a few years back... She watched in horror as one deer stumbled and stumbled trying to cross the road. I took that opportunity to point out.. that thats what happens when the deer over populate an area and there is "no hunting" or no management... On another trail ride we took one spring she watched as several Coyotes took a fawn down. It seemed almost sporting for them.. I said, "see even predators need management". After those 2 scenes that will be etched in her mind forever. She now sees there is a need for hunting. We have also had other conversations about the topics discussed above. She understands the comeradery. She also knows that I yearn for the experience the time in the hills. She knows I just don't kill for the kill. She watched one day as a magnificient monster of a muley walked by me. He was all of 28" high, heavy and majestic. A beautiful 5X5. After the 10 min of complete silence and admiration. She asked why I didn't kill him. I simply said. I didn't feel the need, the time wasn't right.... Thats just me.. In my mind, I outwitted, outsmarted the deer. I watched him and patterned him for 2 years. After those 10 min. I won.. I hunted him.. he was mine. I feel better for letting him go.. letting him breed. My wife now understands me...
After the Prarie Dogs chewed through our business phone lines and it cost us a small fortune to replace them she now sees the need to control them as well. She also winessed an Antelope limping along after it broke its leg in a PD hole.. she now doesn't give me grief for guiding a few PD hunts...

I own a 22-250 for one reason... Coyote's Although deer hunting ( muleys and whitetail) are my passion.. we do spend several hundred dollars a year on corn, oats and barley to spread thoughout our ranch to supliment the deer herd. They come down to feed on our hay when we feed our horses so I fugured why not make em even healthier...
but the yotes know this too and they wait for the young ones to fall behind or get separated.. well I wait until they make there move.. and it is usually their last one....

MM, good to hear, I to do the same thing...

Here's another thing that was instilled in me by my grandfather who supplimented his income and darn near survived on money from being a trapper and mountain man through the winter.
"Always respect your quarry" "never, never hang any animal you killed by the neck or head, it's disrepecful of that animal." "Only criminals and bad men get hung by the neck."
Somthing that has always stayed with me....

Thanks for sharing and listening...
Re: Thinkin\'

Montana Marine,
Nice words, great thoughts - thanks. I believe that I understand where you are coming from, some people see stuff that others don't know exists.
I have read about the reverance shown by many European hunters, the last meal etc. and have grown to understand the significance of the moment. They also say some traditional words, a hunter's phrase. I like your prayer a lot as we have so much to be thankful for during those moments.
Last year I hunted with an Inuit who shared wonderful insite into their culture. Those people are tied very closely to the land and killing is not killing as we know it - they see breakfast, lunch and supper when they are putting the sights on a critter. I have never hunted with a finer person and sure hope to have the opportunity again.

Non-lethal long distance riflery - great phrase, mind if I borrow it and use it a bit. That hits it on the head for me - clanging or knocking over steel plates or seeing dust fly off a far-off rock after you have doped a whole bunch of wind - makes for a very enjoyable, saticefying afternoon. Now we are hurling long ones into the big clay blocks to recover bullets, end up being like little kids looking for a special prize.
I used to say "too windy to shoot", now we crank the hell out of our turrets and get a lot of hits (and real close misses...).
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