What we now call “hunting”, was once called living. This primal activity was not recreation, nor hobby. Many of us say that we live to hunt, but for the greater part of human history man hunted to live. Hunting was such a common endeavor in our nation that, until very recently, men and women often didn’t even identify themselves as “hunters” in the way that emphasize such a label today.
Many of you have grown up in a culture, an area, and a family where hunting was normal – you hunted with your father, your grandfather, an uncle, or maybe a close friend.
It is amazing how quickly times have changed.
I don’t know if we fully recognize just how marginalized hunting has become. Hunters tend to run with hunters, and since we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals it is easy to fail to see the big picture. A fact that we all know, but few of us truly comprehend, is that hunters are frequently cast in a stereotypical light and judged as backwoods, uneducated, beer-guzzling, Skoal-spittin’, rednecks, or what have you.
Some of us shy away from that stereotype and tend to hide the camouflage in the back of our closets. Some of us embrace the stereotype and live a life that fully justifies and celebrates what was meant as an insult. Many of us are in the middle – seeking to defend hunting and buck the stereotypes. But, this post isn’t about us; it is about our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends, and the guy that we may only sort-of, kind-of know.
Not everyone is like us, but that doesn’t mean that they are against us. Not everyone views hunting in a negative light. There are probably dozens of men and women in your circle of life that don’t hunt but aren’t opposed to hunting. Several of these folks are probably very open to hunting, and a few more would be if they understood more about it; if they had a good example of what hunting is all about.
When we think of passing on the hunting tradition we often think of bringing up children to hunt. I am certainly all for that, but I think there is just as much opportunity to recruit adult hunters. The fact is, many adults were just never exposed to hunting, or never had the opportunity to pursue a positive hunting experience. These men and women shouldn’t miss the opportunity to learn about hunting just because they didn’t grow up in the hunting heritage.
Yes, take little Johnny hunting this year, but also consider inviting your neighbor, your coworker, and that guy you just met.
There are several reasons that there is an increasing interest in hunting among adults that have not come from the hunting tradition. Next week we’ll look at a couple of those reasons, and also consider how we can help them in their quest. (UPDATE – Here is Part II and Part III of this series.)