Why men hunt deer – a look at what’s inside us

If you don’t understand why men hunt, read this

A father writes to his daughters. Why do men hunt and kill beautiful animals if they don’t need the food? 

Men hunt in autumn when the leaves change

Men hunt when the trees turn

I figured that although you two are used to having me talk about hunting, some day you are probably going to question it. Most people do not hunt, nor do they understand hunting. Why do men hunt and kill animals when they don’t need food? You two are growing up hearing about it, so it may come more natural to you than to others, but let me try to explain it a little further.

Autumn

Some men find that certain feelings arise in them once the leaves on the trees turn. There’s something in the air during autumn. It stirs a man’s blood a little. It’s similar to men that love to watch football. Once the fall comes around, they feel an excitement building. I can go through the whole year not really thinking about hunting. But then, the summer ends, and fall begins. That is when my mind turns towards the woods. It took me many years to understand those feelings.

Men hunt to express instincts buried inside

You see, many people believe that we still have instincts buried deep inside us. Instincts like the animals have. Instincts of survival. Men hunt not because of a need to survive, but because those instincts are still there, suppressed. Buried deep down inside. You can’t suppress instincts just because you wear a business suit and have a wireless device attached to your ear all the time. Many people never notice those suppressed instincts. But for some of us, those feelings surface in the fall. Men hunt to live out these instincts.

It’s not about killing, it’s about provision

Hunting isn’t about killing the deer. It isn’t about any type of hatred for the deer. It is about living out those instincts of survival. Experiencing what it is like to provide for yourself, just as our forefathers did. Hunters find the deer to be beautiful just as non-hunters do. We don’t have a desire to simply kill. In fact we are more in touch with the lives of the deer than with their deaths. We are more in touch with the lives of the deer than other people are. We are out there, in the woods, and see deer in their natural habitat. Walking, eating, and even playing. We don’t hate the deer. It’s the opposite. We respect what the deer provide for us and we reflect on a time in our history when the term ‘hunter’ was synonymous with the term ‘conservationist.’ We reflect on a time when deer sustained generations of American Indians, who had a respect for the animals they depended on for survival.

In the dark morning air

We watch them, quietly. We observe. We listen. We are there when the sun rises. When the woods are perfectly quiet. Not a sound. Then a little light starts in the eastern sky. A few birds wake up, and then chirp softly. A squirrel stirs from its nest, flickers its tail, then climbs down its tree. An owl glides swiftly by, his silhouette against the still dark sky. A little while later, there’s enough light to see across the field. And you breathe through the crisp, autumn air. Listening, watching, breathing.

Men hunt over the young planted pines

The smell in your nose is not that of the exhaust fumes of the city; it is that of the pine, the sweetgum, the oak, the sycamore. The sounds you hear are not that of horns, motors, alarm clocks or cell phones. They are that of the morning breeze, the whippoorwill, the owl, the chipmunk. And there you sit, high above an expanse of young three-year-old pine trees, watching across the field outlined by the burnt, reddish glow of sunrise. A fog hangs over the field covering the tops of the young trees. The redness cutting into it. A huge field of young planted pine. You see sights like this that no one else sees. And you remember that this is what brings you back, year after year. To see a sunrise like this. Men hunt to share with hunting partners in fellowship after the hunt. Men hunt to live out our inner feelings.

A little while later, with a chill in the air, you strain as you hear feint, distant sounds of twigs breaking behind you. In the woods. Back behind you, in the big trees, past the sycamore, past the cypress, behind the scrub oak. Your heart jumps. Just briefly though, as you imagine it to be a deer. Your breathing becomes deeper. Yet you make no sudden movements. Sounds like that could be made by almost anything. A deer, a squirrel, a bird, a chipmunk, a rabbit. But you also know that a dog or even a person could make these sounds. So, caution is always in your mind; hunter safety, remember, hunter safety.

As you strain to hear, cupping your hand around your cold ear, you notice that the twigs are breaking are a little closer now. You listen very hard to see if they sound like footsteps. Individual footsteps. Not like those of the hopping of a bird, or small animal, but of something bigger, much bigger. Your heart pounds a little harder. Your breathing gets faster. Your breath creates a fog in the cold morning air. You strain not to make any noise as you slowly, ever so slowly, turn your body into position. Caution. Be careful. No mistakes. Identify the deer clearly. Know what is out there. Your heart pounds harder now. Be careful. Leave the safety on until you are sure. Hunter safety. Don’t so much as point the barrel in that direction until you are sure. Look! Motion. Squinting harder. More motion. Another footstep. A gleam of white. The antlers. It’s a buck. Look at that! How beautiful. Majestic even. Watch your breath. It’ll fog up the scope. Breathe downwards so as not to fog it up. Ease the safety off quietly. Pinch your forefinger and thumb around it. Slowly. Ease it off. Silently. He doesn’t know you are here. Quiet. You are sure of your stance, you have a safety strap around you. Don’t let it tighten and prevent you from turning into position. Carefully now. Remember, one shot. One shot. Pick your shot. You’ll only have a second ……

It’s not about killing; it’s about harvest

Afterwards, it’s not exactly the celebration that you might imagine. There is happiness, certainly. But not joy. Exhilaration, but not celebration. The happiness has two sides to it. It isn’t pure happiness. It is, instead, a happy sadness. This creature is now dead. His life over. And that is certainly sad. He sustains you with his flesh and provides you with a satisfied feeling of having provided for yourself. A feeling that grips around you. This is why men hunt. Accomplishment to be sure. You have come onto the land of one of the most cautious creatures God created. And you have completed the harvest.

Yes, I said harvest. Remember, men hunt not because of the killing. It’s not about blood. It is about a harvest. Harvest in the ancient sense of the word. Harvest in the sense of peoples of old coming together to gather food. Food that had been planted and tended for a long season. God planted the seed for this harvest. And with each harvest, you show care and respect. Never goading or celebration. But a reverent respect that keeps coming back to you year after year. God provided this harvest. Remember and respect it.

About Nate Goodman

Nate Goodman is the author of bestselling terrorism thriller novels. To receive a free copy of book 1, The Fourteenth Protocol, go here.