It’s 4-something in the morning when the alarm goes off. I will myself out of bed despite the fact that it’s Sunday morning. “You only get so many days like this,” I tell myself. An hour later, my boots are carrying me across a saddle to my favorite glassing knob. I settle in and my heart rate slows as I sit in the pitch-black darkness, waiting for the world to wake up. I doze off for a few minutes and awake to the chorus of the woods as the sky turns gray, then pink. There is no iphone, no emails to answer, no conference calls, no routine, no voices—just birds and squirrels going about their business.
It’s close to 7 a.m. when I see brown shapes slip out of the tree line. The thrill that shoots up my spine wipes the September chill from my limbs. There’s something primal about the first sight of game. Alert and careful, the column of elk emerges for breakfast. A peek through the binoculars reveals they’re all cows and calves, but the bugle I heard just before light tells me they have a bull with them. I wait for them to calm down and start browsing on the edge between the forest and the meadow. Even from 400 yards away, the elk sense that something isn’t quite right. Every few seconds the lead cow’s head bolts upward with her eyes and ears locked up while she checks the wind with her nose, her nostrils test the air but the wind is in my face. When her head eases down in search of another bite I make my move, raising the Winchester up until I’m in a solid shooting position, laying prone, I pull the stock tight to my shoulder and take a deep breath letting half of it slip out, as the crosshairs settle into the small crease behind the bull’s shoulder—it’s never as steady as it is in the movies. I squeeze slowly until the jump surprises me. Even with the light kick of the Winchester, I lose sight of him in the recoil. The sound of the bullet’s impact echoes across the thick morning air and lets me know that it found its mark.
There’s a sense of elation as I approach him, but there’s no high-fiving or celebration. There’s just a quiet moment between hunter and quarry before my knife comes out and the real work begins. I live in a city and work in sales, but this is where the food on my family’s table comes from. It’s as organic as it gets: no hormones, no feed, no fences, no styrofoam and cellophane under the fluorescent lights of the grocery store. This is hunting.
Four reasons why everyone should hunt:
- Wild Game is Healthy – Not only is wild game free of man-made intervention, but obtaining it through hunting can be good exercise for the body and the mind. Hunting isn’t just about the kill—being afield helps us get reacquainted with the sights and sounds of the outdoors. It also allows us to step off the grid and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, which can be a refreshing change of pace for many.
- Hunting is Good for the Species – Habitat loss has eroded the natural range of animals while agriculture has increased food supplies—the result is game populations that must be managed. If they’re not hunted, they’ll die of starvation or disease. Like it or not, as we increase our land use, proper game management becomes more important than ever
- Hunting Helps the Planet – Hunting license fees and excise taxes on firearms and ammunition fund millions of acres of habitat preservation and improvement. Each year, sportsmen contribute $7.5 million per day toward conservation. And according to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, hunting is responsible for 600,000 U.S jobs, $66 billion in economic activity and $10 billion in state and federal tax revenue.
- It’s Good for your Family – There are few better ways to spend quality time with your children than to take them away from the computer or TV and show them where their food comes from. Revealing how important it is to be resourceful and self-sufficient is also one of the greatest life lessons you can teach them.
With access to over 16.5 million acres of land and hundreds of hunts to choose from Outdoors International is dedicated to helping you find the hunt that is perfect for you and your family, call or email today to get the process of finding a hunt started, it is a lot easier and painless than you might think.
by Chris Bowen