A recent survey (results below) by HunterSurvey.com quantified the reasons that American sportsmen like to hunt. Sadly, the survey left out a critical option on their survey—unless it falls under "other."
To monitor long-term trends, each year HunterSurvey.com inquires about hunters’ motivations. A January 2013 poll found that there are several key motivators that inspire people to pick up a bow or a gun and head out in pursuit of wild game.
All of the answers displayed on the survey are the politically correct pabulum we have come to expect in this vanilla society we live in. Top responses included answers about people liking to spend time outdoors, enjoying seeing wildlife, enjoying the peace and quiet of the outdoors, enjoying the challenge, enjoying spending time with family and friends, blah, blah, blah.
Don't get me wrong. I agree that every one of those options is a motivator ... but not the key motivator. The survey includes what I must call a lie of omission.
I remain convinced that a key reason many, or most, hunters hunt is that they like to kill stuff.
There, I said it—I do get enjoyment and satisfaction when I cleanly and ethically take the life of the wild animal I am pursuing. Yes, I greatly enjoy all the other stuff listed above. But I wouldn't be doing any of it if it didn't come along with the opportunity to kill stuff. Often, I fail and return home empty-handed—and I still enjoy myself. But I am only driven to return based on the hope that the next time I will get to pull the trigger or release the string.
I am sure behavioral scientists and sociologists have studied such things to the max. I don't need a $1 million research project to tell me, however, that hunting is primal and instinctual. Many people have found other outlets to fulfill the desire to hunt and gather that do not involve killing things. Some would even say they have "evolved" past the point of claiming meat by their own hand. And that is fine. I respect those folks and bear them no ill will.
However, accept the fact that there are millions of us who have not.
Author and friend Gary Cook told me once, "Sadly, our society is segregating itself from land values and replacing them with food in stores instead of blood on their boots."
In his book "Wounded Moon," Cook writes, "No matter how intelligent we become, no matter how civilized we are, we are still wearing animal skins and eating once-bloody meat. We cannot civilize ourselves above the basic laws of nature."
Gary and I are of the same ilk. It pains me when others seem afraid to speak out loud of the real reasons we do what we do. The thrill of the hunt and the kill are nothing to be ashamed of.
Survey results (Based on the question, "Why do you like to hunt?" from HunterSurvey.com)
Like to spend time outdoors—92 percent
Enjoy seeing wildlife—87 percent
Enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors—87 percent
Enjoy the challenge—80 percent
Like to spend time with friends/family who hunt—74 percent
Like providing food for my family/friends—70 percent