Hunting: a dying tradition

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Hunting: a dying tradition

The number of hunters has been decreasing 1.4% per year.

The number of hunters has been decreasing 1.4% per year.

The number of hunters has been decreasing 1.4% per year.

The number of hunters has been decreasing 1.4% per year.

Brent Jones, Activities Writer

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It is 5:00 A.M., the alarm rings and you don your articles while walking to the lodge. Everybody is already awake, you are the last. You sit down, eat a quick breakfast, pack your pockets with snacks, and head out. Marching across open fields you hear every leaf drop, squirrel scurry, and deer bolt. Each breath haunts the crisp cold air before vanishing into the dawn. You set up in your blind, alert, waiting for the opportunity. And then… a truck drives by and scares everything off.

We live in a modern world, where the cumulative knowledge of humanity is fingertips away, and a journey which once took months now takes hours. The speed at which we have advanced has unfortunately left some arts behind: traditional art painted with pastel is gradually replaced with online software, opera and stage houses are replaced by movie theatres, and activities such as hunting are replaced with more easy methods of gratification. This instant gratification is becoming a problem, and the virtue of patience is stretched ever thinner. Why should I wait in a blind for hours alert, when I can spend 30 minutes playing a game and receive similar gratification? 

Instant gratification may be quick and rewarding, but its effects do not last long. How many games can a person play before they become bored, or forget about their previous win? Whereas, in hunting, it is not only the act which is gratifying, but the journey along the way. Meeting new people and eating more traditional and rustic meals is a whole part of the experience. And while you may not be sleeping in the most comfortable bed, or have access to the internet, it is an experience I believe everyone should indulge in.

When I went hunting this fall in Wyoming for Whitetail deer, I was more troubled than usual leaving. The instant gratification which I received in the civilization of Fort Collins when compared to New Castle, Wyoming, tempted me to not go at all, but I am glad I did. This trip in particular reinforced the importance of hunting to me. It teaches a variety of lessons, patience first and foremost. 

The deer which I harvested in the picture was a troubling find, I had waited almost eight hours in the blind scanning the field before me, seeing only a handful of animals. When I took the shot I waited an additional two hours, and in the end we had to stop searching for the night because we couldn’t pick up the blood trail. Turns out, the buck had a staggered bleed, and was not 200 yards from where it was shot. The meat was ruined, and my night filled with unnecessary stress. 

But in that time I also reflected on my troubles. I thought about school, my social situation, and where my life was taking me. I reconciled a few things, but I also let go of others. The wilds are a soothing place, you are along with your senses, freed from the stressful constructs of society. Indeed, it makes me think that perhaps humanity as a whole would be better if they just spent some time alone in isolated areas of our beautiful world.

Unfortunately, based on what I have seen and read, the amount of hunters is dwindling. One of the older men at the lodge I was staying in commented that he does not see people my age taking up the torch. I have had similar things said to me by other hunting outfitters. In addition to this, I have to this day never seen anyone my age in person at one of these lodges. I may be one of the last generations of a dying breed.