We all have our reasons to hunt. Perhaps the first reason, historically anyway, is for food. But there are other reasons, or more reasons to hunt, as well, especially since most of us can deal with the 'food' part at the local grocery store. So here are my reasons to hunt. Some may overlap with yours, some may not, and you may have other reasons. And my reasons might change. Feel free to comment, you may have a different order of reasons. Here are mine.
1. For the Exercise
My regular job is a desk job. Ughhhh. So my first reason, also known as an 'excuse' to hunt - is for exercise. So I pick a hill, or a place where I won't stand still, and I get the heart and lungs working. I love it. Hunting to get exercise may not be the most effective way to get food, but it's definitely an enjoyable way to get exercise, and it's effective at getting exercise, especially if I pick a big, steep hill. If I go on a long, demanding hunt, with food, shelter, warmth, and other stuff all on my back - I get in good exercise and lose some weight.
2. To Get Away
Sometimes I just need to get away. Work can be stressful. Relationships can be draining. I need to just 'reset'. In this regard I like hunting spots that are close to where I live, so I get away more often. Grab my gun and go. Bigger, longer trips away give me a bigger reset, I come back a better husband, father, and worker.
3. To Explore
I like to explore. While hunting territory that I am familiar with is the most productive - I also like hunting new territory. Sometimes I'll put in for controlled hunts in areas that I am little familiar with. It's also one reason I sign up for depredation hunts. Depredation hunts put me in contact with new landowners, and put my feet on new land. In my opinion a hunting license is not just a license to hunt - it is a license to explore.
4. To Test New Theories
I like to try new things, or old things new ways. Push the envelope. Perhaps something I learned hunting turkey is applicable to geese, or something I learned hunting deer is applicable to... fill in the blank. Or, perhaps something I learned in another area of life is applicable to my hunting aspect of life. I am an engineer - and sometimes I can apply my 'engineering' (physics, math, etc.) to figure something out in hunting (bullet trajectory, calorie consumption and burn, finding down game, etc.).
Shouldn't what my professor tells me is true on campus, be true also off campus?
Shouldn't what the 'preacher' tells me about life in church - be true also outside of church?
Shouldn't 'projectile' motion in my engineering book be applicable to the trajectory of my 140 grain bullet, or 125 grain broadhead?
I have experienced some otherwise perfect stalks on ducks and geese 'busted' ... with the only common denominator being I was moving directly downwind.
So, I theorize, that ducks and geese also have a sense of smell - and use it to survive.
I theorize that if an elk can smell a human being hundreds of yards away ... it can smell a garbanzo bean field for miles.
And, in reverse I will confess, I have learned things about life while hunting - that I was unable to - or refused to - learn otherwise.
5. To Test New Equipment
Just gotta go test that new equipment. Enough said!
6. For Great Adventure
While some hunting involves little more than grabbing a gun and ammo after work and 'going for a walk' - sometimes I hunt to take on great adventure. I will dream and plan a hunt that will demand a lot of me … physically, and mentally. It may involve risk, but it will also result in stories I can tell others. In great adventures I find out more about myself, and others, and God. I will find out if my hunting buddy is indeed as SERIOUS about hunting as he says he is.
I like to hunt to test ME.
7. For the Bounty
Properly cared for - wild game meat can be premium table fare. So I hunt to eat. Some of it can be pretty expensive table fare, after adding up all the costs - so I don't pull this off as my only reason - but it definitely is a good reason.
8. For the Beauty, the Mystery, and the Magic
Hunting by necessity gets us outdoors, away from the pavement, the glass, the office space, the traffic, the noise. We find ourselves in the beauty of nature. We find ourselves in an environment less directly affected by man and all his devices. A world more natural, filled with beauty, simple to complex. Generally hunting seasons are in the autumn - with splendid arrays of golden sunshine, sunrise and sunsets, and leaves turning every color imaginable. Gone is the pounding heat of summer, giving way to the crispy cold of autumn mornings, and the gentler warmth of sunny fall afternoons. Nearly unmatched is the brilliant array of colors on the 'suit' of the Ringneck pheasant as he steps boldly in the open to look around. I hunt to take in the beauty of the outdoors and the wildlife.
As the season progresses we sense the hint (or warning) of approaching winter and cold. We can also be observers of the marvel of the rut, migration, and the pairing to reproduce. I hunt to see the mystery of these things.
Sometimes I can sense it... minutes, hours, even days in advance. Something magical is going to happen. Then as though scheduled, it does. Walking a ditch-bank, taking in the beauty of the October day, and though the beauty complete as is ...what would make it even more so? ... the beauty of a drake mallard, with mate alongside, taking to flight. Then, magically there they are, and fully illuminated by the sun at my back. Some aspects of civilized life are so mechanical, planned, paid for. So, in contrast, I love to hunt because it can be so magical.
9. For the Relationships & Friendships
Much hunting I do alone. However, outings can be a great time of building or maintaining relationships, whether friend or family. I have found over the years that for some reason some things that might otherwise go forever unsaid - can come out while climbing a mountain, or around a camp fire. Some conversation topics require a change in environment, and a hunt might just provide that change.
10. For Our Animals
One of the great joys of hunting, and thus another reason to hunt, is to be with my animals. Hunting can be an opportunity to be with and work with our stock animals, gun dogs, or hounds. I'd rather watch my retriever get wet than me, and watching a gun dog lock onto the trail of a bird just adds to the magic. Our animals can be great companions.
11. For the Trophies
Right now in life I need the meat more than something else hanging on the wall - so while I would like to get a trophy - I generally take something else, first. But sometimes I pass on something to get something bigger. Some day I'll pass on everything except the biggest. In reality most of us probably hunt along a continuum between the extremes of 'only for' meat and 'only for' the trophy.
12. For the Pictures, the Stories, and Plain Ol' Fun
I can't sit around and tell hunting stories if I don't have any - so I hunt.
I can't show people animals and pictures hanging on my wall if I don't have anything to hang, or show - so I hunt.
And while my audience may be far less interested in hearing my stories as I am in telling them - I love telling my stories, anyway - so I hunt.
Hunting is fun - that's "Why I hunt."