“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality, the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.” -Theodore Roosevelt
The thrill, the tradition, the connection, the renewal…not to mention the meat – there are plenty of reasons why we hunt. Yet at the end of the day, we all hunt simply because we like it. Hunting is exhilarating as well as peaceful and there are scientific reasons why we enjoy it. Study after study finds that all aspects of hunting make us feel good and since we naturally like things that make us feel good, hunters return to the field year after year.
Facts About Hunting
- Hunting is safe. You are more likely to be injured playing golf than you are hunting.
- Hunters worked to save whitetail deer, elk, duck and pronghorn sheep from extinction.
- Hunters contribute more than $1.6 billion a year to conservation programs.
- Hunters spend about $8 million a day directly supporting wildlife and wildlife agencies.
- The purchase of Duck Stamps (waterfowl hunting license fees) has saved 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat.
As one of the safest activities to participate in, hunting provides positive emotional and physical benefits.
Wild game is the most sustainable meat on the planet. You can’t get any more “farm to fork” than harvesting your own grass-fed, free-range truly organic meat. As opposed to farm-raised animals, game animals are more active and eat a more natural diet which makes for leaner meat high in protein, iron, zinc and (good for you) Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also lower in cholesterol and fat. Animals that eat grass retain more vitamins than grain-fed animals (like cows) and you know your game meat will never have hormones, additives or preservatives. For decades, due to the rising cost of corn, farmers have used factory seconds of big brand-named candy, cookies and other sweets, as well as used grain from breweries, citrus pulp, “cakes” left over from manufacturing soy sauce, peanut skins, “bread waste,” chocolate, Kool-Aid mix, meat and bone meal, poultry byproduct and dried and ground tissue of under decomposed fish to supplement cows’ diets (look it up). For those conscious of where and what is in their food, this should be a real concern of commercially-bought meat.
Yes, hunting does require a lot of sitting and waiting but hunters are far from lazy. Year-round, hunters are preparing by making and repairing blinds, creating food plots, sharpening their bow and firearm skills and scouting. When hunting season arrives, hunters do a lot of walking by stalking and trailing. Field dressing is even a workout! Any exercise that increases your heart rate is good for you. Hunting also tests your endurance and overall strength.
Hunting requires you to go to where animals are. And where wild animals are, is where people aren’t. You must venture out into the woods, fields, marshlands, mountains and valleys to find game, away from houses, buildings, roads and electronics. One of the greatest rewards of hunting is the mental benefits of spending so much time outdoors. Evidence from over 140 studies conducted on millions of people in 20 countries has shown that spending time in nature lowers our stress levels, reduces blood pressure and heart rate and improves sleep. Further, nature serves as one of our most powerful restorative environments—a space that encourages recovery from our everyday stress and fatigue. People who spend time in green spaces have a reduced risk of developing Type II diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Hunting can take days, even weeks of waiting. It requires you to sit still and be quiet; to be aware and pay attention. If you don’t have, or develop, patience, you’ll never have a successful hunt. Patience also teaches you coping skills, gratitude and empathy. Our modern world provides us so much instant gratification that when we don’t get something at the speed we want, we get frustrated. Research has shown that frustration causes overall dissatisfaction at life, tension and a lack of sense of humor. When we learn to be patient, we are less depressed and experience fewer negative thoughts. Those who have patience report feeling more fulfilled in their lives.
There are so many important life lessons and skills you can’t learn when sitting in front of a screen. Kids need love and support. Kids who spend quality time with their parents communicate better, perform better at school and are less likely to have behavioral problems. Teaching your child to hunt safely builds confidence, a strong ethical character, an appreciation for nature and conservation and promotes a healthy lifestyle. In fact, according to Nebraska.gov, “Studies show that safe hunting under the guidance and training of mentors actually produces a holistic experience that creates less violence in young people.” Children who spend time outdoors have better eyesight, increased creativity and are less likely to show symptoms of ADHD.
As the top of the food chain, we’ve hunted and killed animals for their meat, fur and hide for centuries. It is one of our most basic of instincts. Now, hunting transcends mere survival. Hunters develop a much deeper understanding of wildlife and ecosystems than most Americans. Their gratitude and appreciation for the animal they harvest doesn’t even come close to what others feel when they buy meat at the grocery store—if they feel thankful at all. Hunters are the reason why certain species haven’t gone extinct, why wildlife habitats are protected from development and why we have so much public land to explore. Hunters are charitable, happier than non-hunters, safe and thoughtful about our country’s wildlife and land.
Unfortunately, the amount of people hunting has decreased in the last few years. Between 2011-2016, we lost 2.2 million hunters. Because the baby boomers are the largest demographic of hunters, most of them are aging out. Because it is so important to wildlife management and conservation, we must pass on the tradition of hunting before it is lost. We ask that next time you go hunting, take a new hunter with you to pass on our love of the outdoors and to spread the joy and thrill of hunting.