Monday, October 10, 2011

The right reason for hunting...

I've been asked many times now: "Jake, why do you hunt?"

The answer? Because nature is a beautiful thing and everyone should take time to truly appreciate it.

No, I'm not some hippy who follows a vegan diet and says that we are robbing resources from our great great great great greatgreatgreatgreat granchildren.

One of the great things about hunting is that you get to enjoy meat that you normally wouldn't dine on. But if that was the only reason for hunting, why go through all the trouble of scouting and setting up and sitting for hours on end when you could simply find a quality butcher shop and buy whatever you desire? The actual harvest of game is only the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more.

Hunters are not killers. People who shoot game and thoroughly enjoy the actual killing of the animal need help and should be committed immediately. While I personally don't take issue with pulling the trigger and ending another animals life, I don't take unnecessary satisfaction in it. It is what happens doing what I do, nothing more to me. I take time to appreciate the animal I took and, in a nonreligious way, give thanks of sorts to it for providing a good meal.

So why hunt then? Why not just go and buy that meat like I mentioned above?

Because like I said above, nature is beautiful.

I am a member of Ducks Unlimited. As such, one of the perks of membership is a every other month delivery of their magazine. One of their columnists, E. Donnall Thomas Jr., is probably one of my favorite columnists of all time. He has lived an obviously storied life and has seemingly lived and hunted everywhere in this great country of ours. A while ago he wrote a column about "Goose Day". This is not a day that is recognized on the same day each year. It is merely a day that a few are lucky enough to witness each year. Goose Day is the day that all the geese in your area seem to take off for the migration, and the sky is filled with literally thousands of birds moving. I was fortunate one year to actually be out at the duck swamp when this happened. I heard them first, and then over the tree line came "V" upon "V" of migrating geese. For about 25 minutes, the sky was alive with the sounds of honking and vibrations of huge wings flapping in earnest for the South. It was truly a spectacle. Beautiful in it's own way.

That's what hunting is about. Getting away. Plopping yourself in the middle of nature and watching how the world works without cell phones, computers, traffic, or social networks.

However you do it, whether it be watching an early morning sunrise from the deer stand, walking through the forest on your favorite grouse trail, or being fortunate to be out at the edge of the pond during "Goose Day", hunting is merely a vessel for doing what everyone should do from time to time:

Slow down, and get away for a little bit.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Good start...

Two weekends ago the duck hunting season got underway.


I'll calm down in a second.

Ok I'm good.

Nope, too excited to type again.

Ok now I'm good.

Anyhow, I ventured on up North to the Hackensack MN area where a good friend of mine works at a nature center. He recently moved into a palace of a place smack in the middle of nowhere and invited me and another friend on up for a weekend of bird hunting. We would pursue grouse in the woods and ducks from the waters. I requested time off from my household duties as follows:

Jake: "I'm going hunting with some of the boys this weekend."

{points to calendar at dates in September with this being middle August}

Elli: {rolling eyes, sighs heavily} "Well are you actually gonna shoot something this time?"

Jake: {lips quivering, voice cracks} "Why you gotta cut so deep?"

The weekend finally came and the truck was loaded with excessive hunting paraphernalia, beer, junk food, soda pop (There! I pleased everyone with referring to POP with both the correct term and the hillbilly inbred reference), more beer, and headed up North.

Our plan was simple: We would hunt grouse during the day, and shoot ducks in the morning. Duck shooting ended at 4pm, so we would mostly go during the day. However one of the members of our gang didn't buy his duck stamps, so instead all of Saturday was devoted to grousing. We had good luck, in that we saw and heard plenty of birds. But Mother Nature has yet to signal to the trees to drop there leaves, and as such most of the cover was so dense that you couldn't see the other guy, decked out in blaze orange, more than 10 feet away from you. So we didn't get a whole lot of shooting but we did get a few shots off and I managed to pull a very lucky shot off and bag one bird.

Sunday after the one guy left, my friend KC and I loaded up the duck hunting gear and proceeded to canoe over to a river running off of a lake. KC knew there were ducks holding up in there, and as it was warm and bluebird skies, we both agreed setting up shop somewhere was gonna prove pointless as nothing was flying. This plan with the canoe allowed us to flush birds holding tight in the backwaters. It produced nicely:

There should be two more there (two more wood ducks) but we spent about 20 minutes on each of them looking for them where they dropped only to never find them. I truly hate leaving wounded birds but we literally scoured every inch of the area that they went down for about a 30 yard radius. One was probably my best shot of my career too. Such is hunting. On the plus side KC shot a wall quality wood duck:

KC's woodie. Ha, I couldn't resist!

It was a great way to kick off the season. And the above harvest was only in a little over 2.5 hours (that's including the 40 minutes or so looking for downed birds on top of retrieving all the other ones). Kind of a spoil type of day in that lots of rewards for little work. But we've all earned those from time to time right?

Happy hunting all!
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