Hunting Is Worthless. And 4 Other Things You Need to Know…

Photos have already started pouring in from the early antelope and mule deer seasons out West, and soon I’ll be seeing some tremendous elk and whitetail photos from across the country. I’m “friends” (at least on Facebook anyway) with some great hunters that have already killed beautiful animals with their bows, and the temptation for me – when I see these photos – is to get jealous. Well, that used to be the case, anyway.

At the root of this temptation is something silly. Something to do with worth, and ego, and all sorts of stupid things that so easily become part of hunting for too many people.

Hunting From A Treestand

Hunting is more than a hobby. Hunting is, for many people, a part of their identity. You don’t hear too many people say, “I am a tennis player.” But you’ll hear many hunters talk about how they were born to hunt, live to hunt, and will do anything they can to be able to hunt as long as they live. Hunters are proud to be hunters, and consider it a badge of honor to define themselves as such.

You’re going to find your self-worth from an animal that you shot?

You may think that sounds crazy, but if you’re a passionate hunter, then I would place a bet that says it’s at least partially true of you, too.

Maybe you don’t get jealous of other hunters, or find your identity/value from hunting – or at least you think that’s the case – still, I challenge you to remember these 5 things this hunting season!

Hunting Doesn’t Matter

Yes, I said it! Hunting doesn’t matter. This statement is coming from someone that finds his sanity, rest, adventure, some income, and even part of his identity in hunting. I am a hunter. I spend every single day, probably every single hour of every day, thinking about it. I spend hours every week writing about it, and dreaming of it.

Still, I would say that in the grand scheme of things, hunting doesn’t matter. Not when compared to your spouse, your children, your friends, or a dozen other things in life.

Before you take hunting too seriously, or make too big of a sacrifice to kill an animal, just remember what really matters.  When all is said and done, what good is a trophy photo or an impressive set of antlers on your wall?  I would hate for you to lose even a part of the truly important things in life, just so you could kill an animal.

How > What

Remember that how you kill something is more important that what you kill. At least that’s the case for me. A lot of “great hunters” aren’t all that great, they just have a lot of opportunities, or money, or both. In my book, a hard-earned 110″ buck is better than a record-book buck that wasn’t killed through difficult circumstances. Hunting was never meant to be just about the kill. And it was certainly never meant to be about a trophy photo. Hunting is about the experience, the pursuit, challenge, patience, courage, and then the kill.

What You Have, Where You Are

You can only do what you can, given what you have, and where you are. Hunting, like real estate, is all about “location, location, location.” It’s stupid to hold out for a 150″ buck when they simply do not exists where you’re hunting.

Be realistic about what you can harvest, and don’t forget that the quality of animals you see on the TV and Internet isn’t the norm. Focus on how you hunt, and shoot what is a realistic representative of the species available to you.

Audience Of One

When it comes to what animal you’re willing to pull the trigger on, you’re the only one that has to live with the decision. Hunt for yourself, not for anyone else. Who cares what your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or fellow Instagramers will think?! Don’t make some stupid excuse like, “it’s a management buck”, or “he isn’t the biggest, but…”

If the animal makes you happy, and it’s a legal/ethical shot, then what are you waiting for? Pull the trigger!

Celebration over Aggravation

Finally, choose to react to other hunter’s harvests with celebration, not aggravation. Don’t get jealous that someone else killed a monster buck, or a toad of a bull. On the other hand, don’t assume that everyone must meet your standards of what “a shooter” is.

I know a guy that shot a buck that he was absolutely thrilled with. He was all excited to show his friends, which he did, and then one idiot in the group exclaimed, “I guess he’s alright, but I would have given him another year.” Okay, jerk, that’s fine for you – but you didn’t shoot this deer. Wether big or small, celebrate other hunter’s success!

“It’s paradoxical that the death of your quarry is besides the point and at the same time the whole point. A chase without a kill as its object is like a journey without a destination; a kill without a chase employing all the hunter’s craft is killing, not hunting.”

– Philip Caputo

The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • huntography

    Such a timely post Mark. I am with you on this. I see it many times where success is only judged by what someone shoots rather than everything that has led up to the shot and recovery. And as you mention, I know why. It’s because they really did not do anything special that has led them to kill that animal. They either paid for the hunt, were put in a spot that they did no preparation for, were told when and where to hunt, told when to shoot and didn’t do any pre, in-the-field or post hunt preparation themselves. They just squeezed the trigger.

    They have a smaller set of pre-hunt memories and steps that have led them to their success.

    Now, some may say what’s wrong with that? Nothing really. But to me, I would not be “as fulfilled” in that type of scenario vs one where I had put in a good amount of effort, preparation and scouting myself. Conditions may not always allow us to enjoy everything that leads to our success. But that’s life.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some situations that fall in between the two examples and each person has their own definition of what makes them happy. To that I say just do what makes you happy as my standards may not match yours. And that’s ok.

    But if I had to choose, I want the entire journey to fulfill me, not just the end result. This is why I love all the planning, preparation and anticipation that leads up to a hunt. It’s part of my fulfillment. And, it’s where my fondest memories come from.


    • SoleAdventure

      Great insights, Rudy. I agree with you – it’s about the process and the experience, not about the result.

  • Aznealz

    As I pack, and repack, for opening bow deer season this Friday, I’m thinking, and over thinking, many things. The fact that during scouting and inspecting trail cam images, I’m not seeing as many, or big deer is concerning. But then I step back, breath a little, and remember I’m going hunting. That is the reward already.

    Perspective and a big picture make all the difference. I wish I’d remember this more, but I’ll take it when I can. Thanks.

    • SoleAdventure

      Amen, Neal! “Going” IS the reward. Good luck this weekend – let me know how it goes.

  • Tom Ryle

    Perfect timing and well-stated, Mark! I’ve spent years beating this drum myself after seeing some guys succumb to the stress of “success”. For what, I say!? When the self-imposed pressure to fill tags on huge animals steals the raw passion and joy of the hunt itself, it’s time to re-evaluate one’s motivations. Over the years, we’ve all seen this behavior violate the line of ethics, fair chase, and the law. How sad. It’s hunting; enjoy the hunt, enjoy the adventure, enjoy your friends and family, and give thanks for filled tags and the load of high-quality meat you’re taking home to your family.

    On Saturday I was presenting my “After the Shot – From Field to Freezer” seminar at Cabela’s in Lacey, WA. I Iove this topic and after several years it still draws the largest crowds. In my introduction I shared my passion for bowhunting and the wonderful source of high quality, lean protein provided by wild game. I feel that many hunters simply forget this important aspect of the hunt, or they fail to talk about it much. It’s almost a side-benefit to a punched tag.

    In my experience, a heartfelt conversation with a non-hunter or even a borderline anti-hunter about the health benefits of 100% organic wild game is a quick path to common ground. Toss in some commentary about the purity and honesty of harvesting and processing it yourself so your family is eating only the best quality food source, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who can argue with you. In a world focused on carbon footprints and eco-this and eco-that, hunting and processing wild game is about as “green” as green gets!

    • Aznealz

      Yep. Well thought and written. Thanks.

    • SoleAdventure

      You’re right on (as usual), Tom! The growing acceptance of hunting is, in many ways, tied directly to the health/eco/green/locavore/natural/organic/authenticity/etc movement. The antlers should be the side-benefit…the meat is the purpose!

  • 365Whitetail

    Great article, Mark! As someone said, “Hunting is a great hobby, but a very poor god.” The temptation is real for all of us. Appreciate your transparency and honesty. Wishing you the best as you head out West.

    • SoleAdventure

      Great quote, Randy – Thanks for sharing!

  • Al Quackenbush

    Well written article, Mark. I am constantly asked why I continue to hunt California. I have yet to arrow an animal here, but to me it is all about getting out there and enjoying myself. I have had people tell me I don’t hunt enough to write a blog. I laugh because I put my family first and if I have to miss an opening day or a weekend of hunting to spend time with my family, well you bet I will.

    The jealousy part kinda drives me nuts. I see people getting down on other hunters, especially young hunters who have great success. It is sad when a hunter bags on another for their success. You are right. We should congratulate the hunter for his/her success and strive to work harder ourselves.

    This is one of your best articles. I hope many eyes get to see it!

    • SoleAdventure

      I admire your persistence and passion for hunting in CA! It’s going to be a glorious victory when you harvest a hog or deer out there.

      • Al Quackenbush

        My wife will be happy, too!

  • John Abernathey

    awesome article Mark, best one I’ve read in awhile! keep up the good work. cant wait to see your colorado hunt go down!

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, John! You’re a great example of how to do it right!