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Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Realizations of the Novice Hunter

So a few years ago, after a long and arduous backpacking season was coming to a close, my trip buddy said, "Hey, why don't you come hunting this fall!"... How could I really say no? Hunting is just backpacking with a rifle and a side of meat right!...right? Well, after three seasons of hunting under my belt I have come to realize a few key things. Actually five things.  Yeah, five is a good number.

1) Hunting isn't something you can learn from a book or online.  I didn't have anyone to show me how to really hunt. My dad quit hunting when he was young, and my grandpa and cousins are a province away, so all this hunting knowledge had to be scraped together from bits and pieces of stories and anecdotes from coworkers and anyone who would tell me about hunting. And how did that work out you ask? Well it hasn't. I am 0 for 3, and the last two years I haven't even fired a shot. Why? I don't know.  It seems like I am doing the same thing everyone else is doing out there. I really wish I could have had someone teach me the tricks of the trade while I was young. So listen up kids! When your dad or grandpa asks if you want to go hunting, just say yes. More to support this in point 5.

2) Where the hell do you go? You can't just drive in a direction, turn on a country road and hunt. There are rules, lots of rules.  Private land is a no no unless you go and ask for permission, anything near residences and roads are obvious, and the rest of the areas are either oil leases or bush. Pro tip, it's hard to see anything in the bush unless you manage to find a mythical clearing that doesn't exist, because if it did, someone would build a house in it.  Therefore most of our hunting has been on oil leases, which are really just rough roads to man made clearings. Not bad I guess, except every other weekend warrior is hunting the same leases because they don't know any farmers with private land either.  And if someone you know does have a good spot they sure as hell won't be telling you because then you will be showing up to scare their deer away. So where do us new guys go? If you figure it out, let me know.

3) Hunting is freakin hard! Everyone has seen the hunting shows and movie scenes where someone blows an animal away or misses and feels like an idiot... Well let's just say even getting into a position to take a good shot is a difficult feat.  Not only do you have to find a good spot, get good weather, be sneakier than a silent fart and stealthier than the predator himself, you have to be able to get a clean and ethical kill shot on a target when your adrenaline is skyrocketing.  Not to mention you are trying to shoot a freaking Olympic athlete who spends all day running jumping and staying the hell away from sources of danger like you!  Their hearing is superior, they can see you a mile away, smell you from 3 miles away, and could probably out score you on the SAT's. Deer are smart and designed to avoid predators. Give them some credit. If you didn't have your truck to chase them down and your gun to even the playing field, you probably wouldn't be hunting. Side note: bow hunting is Gypsy Magic.

4) Hunting isn't really a source of cheap meat.  How much is beef or pork these days? A couple bucks a pound? Let's say I shoot a doe and get 80 lbs of meat. Some good cuts like back straps and roasts, a lot of it is ground meat.  Let's say it's worth $240 if you were to buy the same weight in beef or pork. Remember, Your tag and license was $75, your fuel to get out and back was another $50-$100, your bullets are almost $2 a pieces, you probably grabbed a coffee and breakfast sandwich on the way out, another $7, and you didn't shoot anything? Shit! Gotta do it again next weekend.  But next weekend is cold, so you better get some $150 boots and a new $250 parka. Costco meat department is starting to look pretty economical in comparison.

5) Hunting isn't really about hunting.  The four previous points might be complaints and negative aspects from a newbies point of view, but this is the most important point, and really the one worth noting. What brings me out every fall to hunt at the end of the day isn't the fact that I am trying to bag a deer, it's actually so much more.  It's the connection with nature, being outdoors hiking in the bush, seeing country you normally just drive past, freezing your dick off in 40 below trying to outsmart an animal that you can't even wear as a coat.  It's the laughs in between shots, the jokes with your pals, the 4 day beef jerky farts, and getting the hell out of the city for just a few more days a year. It's the relaxing quiet of the out doors, and quite frankly a shitload more enjoyable than all inclusives in Mexico.

I might be 0 for 3, and am probably the worst hunter in the tribe of the new generation of young men, but I sure as hell wouldn't trade it for the world. You bet your hat I will be out again.  See you in the fall!

-Ken KR-

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