Over the past year, I have gone from having practically no experience hunting (save a couple of dove hunts) to being more fully immersed in the hunting culture than I could have ever imagined. It was really a two-headed monster, psychologically, that led me to this place. First, I had always been fascinated with archery. 15 years ago in college, I went through one of my "do whatever" phases. I decided that, along with my normal course load, I would also take one new and interesting physical education class per semester. This started with Tae Kwon Do (earned my yellow belt, so watch yourself...), and after that was Olympic fencing. I fully intended to move on to archery they next semester, but fencing got its claws in me, and the rest is history.

My fascination with archery never faded completely away. Meanwhile, I had been steadily building a strong case in my mind to become a hunter. I know that generations of men in my family had hunted and fished, but my father didn't continue those traditions into his adult life, and didn't pass them on to me. I wanted to reconnect with that. Moreover, I wanted to find a way to get my family off the factory farming grid, so to speak. If only in small part at first, but the eventual goal would be to feed my family home cooked meals using only protein that I sourced. I truly believe in conservation, and that hunting is the best way to fund and support wildlife and wild spaces. Last year, my flirtation with archery and my newfound love affair with hunting and conservation dovetailed into becoming a bowhunter.

With just over a year in the books, I still have untold volumes to learn about hunting, wildlife, survival, and ecology. I have never had more fun learning, though. The reason? I get to go outside.

"Hunting helped me to see how I fit into it all."

I don't need to prattle on about the benefits of spending time out of doors. However, I think a lot of people, men especially, suffer from a lack of inspiration to get out there. I experienced this myself, because I have an active wife who loves to get out and hike. I always enjoyed myself once I got out there with her, but I had a real problem getting off my ass and getting excited about it. Every damn time, actually. Hunting changed that for me. There is now an inherent excitement and wonder about the outdoors that wasn't there before. Even if I am going on a scouting/exploration trip with no gear, I still get excited about the chance to learn an area, and see what life it has to offer. Hunting helped me to see how I fit into it all. It helped me to see that my human existence is some exception to it, but a fascinating and sometimes important part of it. It also taught me to feel small, and to realize that nature is indifferent to me. The only long term damage I (or we, as a species) can do to this planet is make it inhospitable for us and other animals. The Earth will be here to ride us out. It did so for billions of years before we stood upright.

What got me here was the physical challenge and excitement of hunting; the chance to share lessons about our planet and the life that inhabits it with my children. For you, it might not be that. However, I implore you to find your "point" to being outdoors and experiencing the wild in some way. It doesn't even have to be "wild" but it needs to offer more challenge than your office or living room. Humans have lived most of our species' existence out in the elements. Don't waste all that history and that amazing lineage of survivalist badasses. As my friend Krissy says: Go the fuck outside.

August 17, 2018