These days most people have very little experience with hunting. Especially in my state of California, where licensed hunters are at an all time low, it’s uncommon to meet people who hunt. With the majority of our population living in urban areas, the readily available food in supermarkets and fewer people having a significant and real connection to the outdoors, it’s become unnatural to many people to consider hunting.
Where It Started
I grew up around hunters and hunting. We also raised much of our own meat. It was nothing unusual to me. However, as I grew older and moved away from home, then started a career and family, I had less time and money to hunt. For the next 17 years I did not hunt, since 20 years old. But something inside me changed. I wanted to hunt again. Why?
For the past 23 years or so I have worked an office job. I work with computers daily. My job was stressful and I took very little time to get outdoors. My diet was suffering as well. I knew I needed a change. For the next few years I spent more and more time fishing. I learned to catch salmon and striped bass from the Sacramento River. I became very good at it, and regularly landed sizable fish. My wife and I enjoyed having the fresh fish, and bought very little from the store. The quality of the fish could never be matched in the supermarket and you certainly couldn’t beat the price. Want to get started fishing? Check out my article.
After a while, my wife commented on how much my personality had changed. She said I had become a lot less stressed and was more fun to be around. I considered this and realized she was right. Being involved in the outdoors and having an activity that was rewarding had definitely changed me. For the better.
As I began to realize the benefits of my outdoor activities I happened to read an article about turkey hunting in a magazine called Turkey Country. We didn’t have turkeys in Oregon when I was growing up, but we had plenty here in California. These birds fascinated me, and reading about hunting turkeys I wanted to try it. After all, more lean, organic protein was never a bad thing.
Gearing Up to Hunt
Over the coming months I prepared to turkey hunt. I received my California Hunter Education certification, purchased the appropriate tags and licenses, bought a shotgun and all the gear I thought I’d need. At the time, I didn’t know anyone who hunted so I spent hours upon hours reading about turkey hunting. I visited several public lands looking for wild turkeys. I finally located turkeys and spent several days visiting that property learning about them. On opening day of spring turkey that year I killed my first turkey, a jake (young turkey). I was hooked.
So Here’s Why I Hunt
Over the past decade I have increased the number of species I hunt: pig, deer, duck, pheasant, quail, grouse, squirrel and numerous other small game. In the past few years, through a lot of hard work and research, I have become a lot more successful. In fact, it’s rare for us to buy meat from the grocery. I have also spent more time making more gourmet meals; harvesting my own game has made me want to cook it in more meaningful ways.
So why do I hunt? In one sentence: It makes me a better person.
I feel better, I get more exercise, I eat better and I am overall happier. I also have a much stronger connection to the forest I live around and to the animals in the ecosystems I hunt. There are numerous other benefits as well.
It does not matter that I know many people do not understand hunting or even strongly criticize the activity. I am proud to be a hunter.