Being that I have been away from hunting for so long, it is almost like starting over from scratch.
This puts me in the position of a newbie, and while deep within my cortex lies some fundamental knowledge, the skill is lacking these days. I am starting fresh, after not having hunted since the late 1980’s due to work and time constraints. With just the wife and I in the house, and more responsibilities, but of a nature that I can take time away, I thought it best to return to what I consider my roots.
In my time away from hunting I have not however strayed from shooting, observing game when the opportunity presents itself, or recognizing possible habitat for game animals. In fact it was while backpacking through a mountain meadow that I got as close to a deer as I have ever been while she was feeding, without actually stepping on her. I am fortunate in that I live in a location where certain game is abundant. In my desire to pursue my atavistic hobbies that has led me to acquiring many of the tools for that pursuit that I gave up long ago. I find myself studying camouflage patterns, backpacks designed for hunting, and various other implements.
Back in the day jeans and a shirt were the general mode of dress, with a good pair of boots designed for walking. Now I have to consider between Obsession and Max, not to mention Advantage. Soft Point bullets were pretty much the order of the day, with an occasional hollow point. Now we have Partition this and T something or other that. Reading the various printed material leads one to believe that one needs an entire rack from the hunting clothing store and a custom gunsmith in tow to ever be able to harvest a deer for the freezer. It makes me wonder how my ancestors managed to find and take any game at all, let alone the Native Americans that were hunting long before Columbus ran aground in Cuba, or wherever the heck he finally landed.
This gear boom has helped to sell gear, and no doubt has helped some hunters to harvest an animal or two, but have we forgotten why we are hunting in the pursuit of the gear race? Is this like an arms race between two countries, or a form of “keeping up with the Joneses”? I admit to liking and using some of the newer gear in my short term back in the hunting world, but I also know from where I came, and have the advantage of being able to compare it to past experiences. If I was a new neophyte I’m pretty sure I would be overwhelmed and dismayed at what I would think the financial cost are. That gives rise to the question, “Are we scaring new hunters away with what they think are prohibitive financial burdens?”
It seems that everything is about harvesting a record book trophy. Trophies in the record books are nice, I’ve seen some but have never harvested anything of that magnitude while some friends have been fortunate enough to do so. Me, I’m happy with meat that I harvest. What is it about pursuing the record books that draws some people? Me, I’m happy for the time in a wilder environment, time away from the stress of day to day living, and a return to a somewhat simpler focus from my day to day grind. I find golf too stressful, and end up wanting to beat that ball in to submission, but nature can’t be beat in to submission. My time hunting helps to serve as a reminder as to what a small cog I am in the grand scheme of things.
So as I return to hunting I will have observations and things to compare. In some ways I am like a neophyte, and in other ways I have past experiences to draw from. Maybe it could be that I am a simple man with simple desires. I have no desire to travel the world for hunting, but if the opportunity presents itself I will take advantage of it. I have been afforded the opportunity, when I wasn’t hunting, to shoot Kangaroos. I learned that the meat is tasty, and quite good. I’m learning to sit and glass instead of walking the soles off my boots. I now have time that I didn’t have when I was younger, but a maturity of years that makes me look for the least taxing way of accomplishing a task. This has led me to paying attention to areas that attract the game animals I pursue, and what techniques best lead to success. In some ways I am maturing as a hunter, without having hunted for twenty years.