I’ve hinted at several reasons why so many people love hunting these past few days. I suppose there are many reasons. The wilderness, harvesting an animal, excitement, fellowship, campfires, good eating, adventure, time with God, time with family. All good things, no doubt. Here are my reasons.
I’m actually out hunting right now. Today’s the final day of a 4-day excursion into the Colorado mountains. Truth is, I queued this up the week before, knowing full-well I’d be gone. I have Lydia (18), Isaiah (16), Micah (15), Noah (14) and Tabitha (12) with me.
The actual hunt? Like, actually hunting? It will consume just a fraction of our thoughts. Much more valuable and lasting will be the card games in the tent, the set up and breakdown of camp, and the times sitting in the woods together. Come to think of it, I’m sort of glad we don’t harvest animals for the entire trip. Just hanging together is the real joy.
Most hunters have a meat market process their animals, but we butcher our own. It gives the entire family a piece of the action, even the little kids not yet old enough to go out on the hunt. A traditional practice after wrapping the steaks and roasts is marking the name of the hunter on the package.
There is something magical about doing it yourself. Reading “Isaiah’s Tenderloin Steaks” when the meat is pulled from the freezer months later is quite a rush for the child responsible. What better confidence builder is there than sharing a hearty elk steak meal with 16 others—who are all saying, “This elk tastes great!”—knowing that you were the one to provide?
We go hunting every year, and we come back with fantastic stories. Even when the kids were too young to come with, I’d come home from my solo hunts with huge tales of the hunt (and I never had to make up any of them!). Story is powerful. Here’s what I pondered after returning from our 2009 hunt:
[The power of story] is more profound than you might think. Every year the hunters in the family return home to tell stories of their few days in the woods. Even if unsuccessful in harvesting an animal, I’ll return with vibrant stories of this or that. All my pre-hunting children (those under 12) can’t wait for me to return home to tell the tales of the year’s hunt. None of the tales are fabricated or made up. They don’t have to be. Every year is exciting, adventurous, wild. These stories get told over and over again through the years. Lessons of survival and temperament and strategy and adventure get repeated around the campfire. They get repeated over and over again for generations.
If you want to know how well we did this year, follow me on Twitter. I’ll have my phone with me and will be tweeting pictures as the days roll by.