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The Hunt Should Be Part of Hunting

The Hunt Should Be Part of Hunting

Let’s take the hunt out of hunting.

It’s easy. All we need do is cater too much to human nature. Some outfitters, lodges and hunting preserves already do this. To demonstrate, let’s create an imaginary hunting operation. We’ll call it the mythical 15,000-acre Posh Plush Lodge and Preserve just an hour’s drive out of Easy Peasy, Saskatchewan. Our advertisement would look something like this:

Tired of washing camp dishes in a cold stream? Tired of cutting firewood, feeding that smoky stove and waking in a cold tent? Tired of sitting for days in a rickety tree stand without seeing any mature bucks? Put all that in your rearview mirror and enjoy the trophy whitetail hunt of a lifetime at the 15,000-acre Posh Plush Lodge and Preserve! We do all the work while you enjoy the fantastic hunting for the buck of your dreams. Our success rate on big bucks was 100 percent last year.

Enjoy our climate-controlled guest suites with wi-fi, king sized beds, marble showers, hot tub and sauna. Daily maid service. Full breakfast, lunch and five-course dinners prepared by our gourmet chef. Relax in our expansive trophy room with fully-stocked bar, fireplace, giant-screen TV, pool tables and a state-of-the-art exercise room.

Your guide will drive you to a fully-enclosed blind strategically placed to put you within 100 yards of a shot opportunity. Hunt from our custom-built, swiveling, four-way-adjustable Whitetail Loungers. We’ll leave you with a two-way radio so you can whistle up your guide once your buck is down. He’ll retrieve your buck, photograph you with it, load it and drive it to the skinning shed while you enjoy a celebratory beverage by the crackling fire. Your game meat will be cut and wrapped, the cape and antlers prepped for shipment to your taxidermist—or ours.

So stop eating tag soup. Indulge in the hunt of a lifetime at Posh Plush Lodge and Preserve where trophy lodging and service are matched only by our trophy bucks.

Wow. Were I looking for the ultimate vacation to celebrate an anniversary with my wife, Posh Plush might be the place. But for fulfilling my dream hunt of a lifetime? Not so much. Because … where’s the hunt? I don’t know about you, but my hunts include researching game locations and numbers, mapping potential hunting grounds, scouting, finding the perfect campsite, prepping the gear, loading the ammo, zeroing the rifles, sharpening the knives, cutting the firewood and knocking the snow off the tent fly at dawn. I want to search for and find my quarry, not just shoot it. And when it’s down I want to skin it, age it, bone it, pack the meat home and cut it into steaks and roasts. I want to sear it, serve it and savor the flavor. This doesn’t mean I always want to work that hard, but the more of any hunt I farm out, the more of if deny myself. 

So while some commercial lodges have a unique talent for taking the adventure out of hunting, we all have a tendency to do this. It’s human nature. Who doesn’t want an easy, comfortable hunt? Who doesn’t want to increase his or her odds for success?

That’s why we hunt in areas with lots of game. We don’t drive 24 hours to New York State for a pheasant hunt; we drive to South Dakota. We don’t look for heavily antlered, 7-year-old mule deer bucks in Washington State; we go to Colorado or Arizona. We seek a landowner who might have more and bigger deer on his fields than the BLM has on its sage-steppe public land next door.

Similarly, most of us want to lighten our workload, find an easier path up the mountain. We don’t swim the river when there’s a footbridge over it. We don’t bushwhack through the brush when there’s an old logging road leading the same direction. Given the option, most of us would rather ride a horse or motorized vehicle up the mountain.

Who wants to be wet, cold and miserable while sleeping on lumpy ground? This is why we’ve invented tents, stoves, cots, foam sleeping pads and down sleeping bags. It’s only logical to ramp this up to a cozy log cabin, then one with running water, maybe a few gas lights. Heck, why not bring in electricity with a solar panel? And let’s invite old Uncle Ben in to cook and wash dishes for us. We can hunt hard all day and come in at dark to a hot meal instead of kitchen work.

Ultimately, there’s Posh Plush Lodge and Preserve, the inevitable product of entrepreneurial enterprise. See a need, a potential market, and supply it. Whether it’s a simple woodsman guide to help you locate your game or a full-service lodge to do everything but eat it for you, someone’s going to offer the service. And someone’s going to pay for it. And not just with money. With the real hunt of a lifetime. The only question is, how much of the real outdoor adventure, of the hunt, are you willing to give up?

The tipping point isn’t clearly defined. Each of us finds it for ourselves. But it’s always there. For the most fanatical purists, the only real hunt is one conducted in wilderness, solo, with tools and clothing one made for oneself. Build a lean-to, spark a fire, eat bugs from under a rock. (You don’t see many of these folks in the Maine whitetail woods.) From there it ramps up. Longbow and buffalo robes in a teepee. Flintlock muzzleloader and wool jacket. Blackpowder cartridge rifle. Iron-sights lever-action 30-30 and buffalo plaid. Peep sight .30-06 Springfield and down jacket under waxed cotton mackinaw. Or a laser-rangefinding 5-25x56mm-scoped 26 Nosler M48 shooting .625 ballistic-coefficient long-range bullets from a tripod rest in a heated blind at Posh Plush. Wine with dinner. Jacket required.

Yes, we are all susceptible to the siren call of the soft and easy hunt, so where do we draw the line? While my biases might suggest everyone rough it and tough it out to truly earn their buck or bull, 50 years of experience have leavened my judgment. People are autonomous beings. As such, they should be afforded the option to live and hunt as they see fit within the laws and regulations of whatever government entity has jurisdiction. Ideally there would be no government interference with this natural liberty, but as a culture we learned long ago the tragedy of the commons. When harvests, seasons and bag limits are left to each individual, the unmanaged resources quickly dwindle. It’s human nature to get while the getting is good. We barely saved bison, pronghorn, elk, turkeys, wood ducks and many more wild game species from obliteration due to market hunters a century ago. We don’t need to try that again.

Thus the need for placing limits on where, when and how we hunt and take game. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation system we set up, using conscientious sport hunters to support sustainable, managed hunting and wildlife management for the long haul, has worked beautifully. Voluntarily (and sometimes under penalty of the law) sport hunters have played by the rules. We’ve held fire, waited our turns, and shared what has become the bounty of wildlife we now enjoy. All the deer, elk, turkeys, ducks and geese, bears and cougars, and even wolves and coyotes roaming our land are a result of legal, regulated hunting and American hunters’ cooperation, discretion and differed gratification. Not to mention our substantial financial contributions and hands-on work improving habitat, saving wetlands and grasslands, capturing and reintroducing species and so much more. We law abiding sport hunters are who saved and restored, and continue to protect, the wildlife we love. For that we can stand proud. 

Today, with technology making life ever easier and farther removed from Nature, red in tooth and claw, we all must take a careful look at where, how and why we hunt. With an ever-growing human population and shrinking wild habitats, our opportunities are fewer. When they come our way, we don’t want to cheat ourselves out of half the adventure. Our hunts of a lifetime are probably not those in which others—or high-tech tools—do most of the work for us. Choose wisely, my friends.

About the Author: Award-winning outdoor writer and contributor Ron Spomer says hunting is everyone's way of connecting with true freedom—the freedom to interact with Earth as naturally as does a wolf, falcon or chickadee. During more than 50 seasons afield, Spomer has decades of hunting experience and writes regularly for multiple outdoor publications, including NRA Publications, sharing his vast knowledge on guns, ammo, optics and gear.
For more information, including his top hunting tips and tactics, visit his website, Ron Spomer Outdoors.

Follow NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum on Twitter @HuntersLead.

 

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