Is Hunting A Hobby Like Any Other? (And Why I’m An Idiot….)

A couple of weeks ago, Montana Decoy published one of my articles – “Why We Hunt”. It is a manifesto of sorts, which I wrote a couple of years ago. The piece connected with thousands of hunters across the country, and it was nice to see dozens of comments from readers that appreciated the perspective.

But there are always detractors.  I have come to expect that, and welcome the challenges that are genuine and thoughtful.

Enjoying The Hunt

One commenter vehemently took issue with the topic (anonymously, of course), and railed that hunting is a hobby – like golf, or mechanics, or “sandwich eating” – and nothing more.  He went so far as to say that,

“[My] line of thinking is so idiotic, it’s embarrassing for all the rest of hunterdom.”

Is that how you see things?

I think that hunting is a hobby. It is done – in accordance with the definition of the word “hobby” – with “leisure” and “pleasure”.  Hunting doesn’t have to be, and is often better when, not taken so seriously.  But even when hunting is recreational, there’s still something deeper happening.

The solemn act of killing a living creature cannot be equated with clubbing after a ball.

Participating in the conservation of our nation’s wildlife and wild lands cannot be equated with the restoration of a muscle car.

The process of studying, pursuing, killing, processing, preserving, and preparing your own, ethically harvested meat cannot be equated with the simple act of, as the commenter said, “eating a sandwich.”

At least not for me.

Is hunting a hobby?  Yes.  But, oh, is it so much more!

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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  • http://www.chasingthehunt.com/ ChasingtheHunt

    I couldn’t agree more. It is much more than a hobby. I agree 100% with your sentiments.

  • Al Quackenbush

    It really is so much more than a hobby. Especially when you consider the killing, but also the fact that you want to put food on the table. It’s so funny how these people want to remain anonymous. If you speak your mind, back it up with a name and a face. We all do. Thanks for sharing Mark!

    • SoleAdventure

      But is much easier to hide behind the keyboard. ;-)

  • http://westernlandsjournal.blogspot.com/ Brent Daley

    I think you nailed it well in your reply. If it’s just a hobby like golf or hiking, than that person really hasn’t gotten it, their loss I guess. I’m more interested in those that do have the full understanding of hunting and all that it entails. Some hunt for horns, some hunt for meat…but I think all true sportsman come away with gratificaiton when they are just allowed the opportunity to get out in the field for a while and decompress from the hectic world.

  • Jon Hubble

    I play a lot of golf, but I cannot recall a time while playing golf that I felt at my very core that I was involved and connected to the dynamics of nature and the circle of life. Hunting puts you in that connected state and regardless of my success in the field, I walk away a with a smile on my face and a sense of knowing nature in my heart. It may sound romanticized, but it’s not true of my golf game, and I practice often. Those who feel otherwise may just not get it, but I hope they find something that speaks to them the way hunting speaks to true hunters. The cynic in me may even say, if it doesn’t speak to you this way, stop hunting and find what does.

    • SoleAdventure

      Exactly!

  • David

    We know that most people can’t understand our love for hunting. I just hope that others can tolerate different view points and hobbies, because everyone deserves to love something as much as I love hunting.

    You speak for me, and you speak well. Keep up the good work!

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, David. I’m all for civil disagreements, but unfortunately things tend to disintegrate into name calling too quickly.

  • Jay Clark

    There will always be opposition of varying degrees. From people rallying for an outright ban on hunting, to the geniuses that quantify sandwich eating and the pursuit of game. I think that places like this are a great way to battle the arrogance that surrounds people that would see our hunting heritage dissipate.

    • SoleAdventure

      You’re right, Jay. And thanks!

  • IAHunter

    My concern is that hunting has become more of a sport/hobby for the wealthy. Finding permission for private land is near impossible and land prices are through the roof. I’ve recently witnessed 80 acres of Iowa timber sell for $3500/acre for hunting purposes only, no crop ground and there is not enough good timber to justify any logging effort for income. Even finding leasing opportunities is tough as land owners prefer to sell the ground for premium dollars or the lease is more than many can afford. My concern is that this will force a decline in the number of hunters which may mean a decline in efforts to support our 2nd Amendment. Once that is gone, all is lost.

  • John McCoy

    For those who wish to explore this subject further there is a great book: A Hunter’s Heart: Honest Essays on Blood Sport by Davis Peterson. Lots of great essays and stories from everyday hunters to ex-presidents. There is a huge difference in what’s in a hunter soul which makes it much more than a hobby.

  • ac

    I think that there are several layers of degree to hobby pursuits. Chasing an inanimate object and attempting to achieve mastery over it (e.g. golf or culinary skills) is a hobby in the basest sense. We apply our focus to some skill and achieve pleasure from increasing our ability to control it. Ball and/or stick games usually involve some opponent and we have not only to contend with our ability (or lack of) but the strategies and skills of our opponents. In my opinion, this provides additional satisfaction in our success in light of the additional challenge(s). Certainly, to hunt with the self-imposed burdens of killing ethically, etc. falls very close to the sportsman’s challenge to ‘play fair’ even in a very difficult contest. Additionally, a hunter’s non-stop learning about their hunting environment, the behavior of the quarry and the attempt to improve tactics/calls/etc even out of season closely resembles an MMA fighter’s non-stop learning in multiple disciplines including history and various martial arts techniques. Hunting falls closer to the second, but surpasses it in that it involves issues of life and death. Certainly, the hunter seeks to slay an animal to gain its meat. Additionally, hunters might suffer accidents leading to either injury or death. When someone is struck by lightning on a golf course, no one blames the game of golf. Even when someone dies in a boxing match, people claim it’s not part of the sport. When a hunter falls from a tree stand, stomped by a cape buffalo, or is shot by another hunter by accident, it is the inherent act of hunting that is related to the injury or death of the hunter. No other hobby asks more of its participants. I don’t know if the personal satisfaction of hunters is somehow better than those of participants of stick and ball games, but the additional commitment due to risk leads me to believe that hunters choose to hunt for reasons above and beyond the simple joy they get from the experience.
    Sorry, long and involved and probably over-thought. Good article. Keep up the good work.
    ac

  • Mike Dwyer

    I have never been comfortable with calling hunting a hobby. As I have said before, a good day afield means that something died. That transcends hobby. Sport? Perhaps, but that can also cheapen what we do. I have often used the word ‘calling’ which is accurate to a point, but we need something more. At the end of the day, for me, it is a way of life. It is a connection to Nature (capital N), it is a connection to our food, a test of our abilities, a conscious choice to take a more active role in all of those things. Maybe golf or woodworking or scrap booking bleed over into people’s lives beyond the moment they are engaged but I have not experienced that with any of my other hobbies. None of them affect me the way that hunting does. It defines me beyond the woods. It drives my morals, my role as a father and a husband, my place in the community and the world. It truly makes me a better person.

    • SoleAdventure

      Good thoughts, Mike. Thanks for sharing!