Why We Hunt — Conservation, Food, and Memories

Written by Bill Brown

In a world where people are sensitive, protective, and judgmental, hunters are often questioned as to why they hunt. Does it not bother them to take the life of a wild animal? The truth is, it’s not that simple.

One of the most important aspects of hunting is the food value of what we hunt. Knowing exactly where our food comes from — and for those hunters who process their own meat, exactly how it’s aged and taken care of — is the most satisfying and rewarding part of the hunting experience. Wild game is known as some of the healthiest meat on the planet. It is also some of the most delicious! Many on the anti-hunting spectrum would counter with, “You can buy meat at the grocery store — why don’t you leave the wildlife alone?” Well, a hunter’s counter argument is that just because you choose to purchase processed meat (from a domesticated animal) in a grocery store, does not make you morally superior to those who fill their freezers in a different manner. Whether it’s cattle or mule deer, they all walk on four legs. However, wild game is able to roam freely and eat what they choose.

Hunting also allows families and friends to spend valuable time together in the wilderness. These memories transcend generations. For that matter, some of my earliest memories involve bouncing around in a single cab pickup with my dad, mom, and brother hunting antelope, elk, and deer. I can also vividly remember the first time I heard a cow elk calling her calf while hunting with my grandpa in a patch of downfall timber. From an early age, hunting instilled in me the importance of family and friends as well as the importance of spending time outside enjoying everything that nature has to offer. There is nothing more exciting than being in close quarters with a bugling bull elk or quietly sneaking within a stone’s throw of a bedded muley buck!

As human encroachment on natural wildlife increases, we come to another very important part of why we hunt and why hunting is necessary: wildlife management. Every wildlife ecosystem has a carrying capacity and without proper management, the wildlife populations are at risk of uncontrolled population growth and massive die-offs. That is where we — as hunters — come into play. We are the world’s first and most diligent conservationists. And while it may be difficult to comprehend, hunters get just as much thrill viewing wildlife as non-hunter do. For us hunters, it isn’t just about wanting healthy wildlife populations so that we have more animals to aim at. We live where we live 

because of the abundance of wildlife and the endless opportunities to watch them in their natural element. Whether it’s witnessing a doe antelope nursing triplet fawns or a bachelor group of mule deer bucks on a summer afternoon, the joy is in the entire experience.

The simple truth is that we hunt because it’s deeply rooted in our blood and our family traditions. We have the utmost respect for any animal we harvest, as that animal provides food for our families. It’s not about the thrill of taking a life, it’s about all the experiences leading up to that point. It’s about learning the skills that are handed down from previous generations that allow us to make the hunting both clean and ethical. That is — at the very least — what we owe the elk, deer, or other wild game that graces our dinner tables.