Since today marks the beginning of our annual excursion afield in pursuit of a winter’s venison, I thought I’d present a few thoughts on the hunt, yr. obdt.’s history in such, and the state of hunting in America today.
I was born into a family of farmers and outdoor people. The Old Man hunted and fished most of his life. Both of my grandfathers were outdoor types, and fishing trips with both of them are among my earliest and fondest memories.
Since I was old enough to carry a .22 rifle in the woods, I did so – almost constantly. Growing up in the hills, woods and fields of Allamakee County, Iowa presented plenty of opportunities to do so. The endless summers of youth were long, in part because of my anxious awaiting of the opening of squirrel season in late August, the first of many small game seasons to open. Hunting squirrels with a .22 teaches a boy to be quiet in the woods; it teaches him how to look over the terrain, to plan and execute a stalk, and how to shoot carefully.
Later in the year, I always laid aside rifle for shotgun when seasons for ruffed grouse and later, pheasant and Hungarian partridge opened. In December, it was deer season – and hunting whitetails on the Old Man’s place in Allamakee County stuck me with a love of big-game hunting that has stuck with me ever since.
Moving to Colorado when I left the Army in 1989 was the icing on the cake.
Folks hunt for a variety of reasons. Some hunt for trophies – and as every state requires, by law, the removal of all edible portions of a legally taken game animal, ‘trophy hunting’ as such should carry no animus.
Some hunt simply because they like to spend time wandering woods and fields, and that’s fine too.
Some hunt because they like eating wild game. Why not? It’s additive-free, lean, healthy meat – you don’t get any more ‘free-range’ than an animal you’ve hunted and killed in the wild.
I have hunted for 40 years or so for all of those reasons, mostly the second and third. I like the chance at a big buck or trophy bull as much as anyone, and it’s no secret I like to eat. You won’t find any better eating than an elk steak cooked over an open fire. And, there’s no better way to kill a few days than bumming around mountains, fields and forests.
So tomorrow starts the annual ritual. The bloodwind calls. It’s time to hunt.