Why I Hunt

Every November for the last 32 years I get the same question. Why do you hunt. I think a better question is “Why don’t you hunt?” The experiences and memories I’ve had over the last 32 years or so will last a lifetime.

 To this day, sitting in a tree stand overlooking a hardwood creek bottom or walking a mountaintop ridge on a snowy November morning is something I will cherish forever. Sitting 20 feet up in a tree stand in a freezing rain and loving it is hard to explain to the non-hunter.

 Watching 2 deer on a mountaintop less than 10 feet away rear up on their hind legs and playfully box each other is a wonder of nature I’ll never forget. Walking outside in the darkness of a West Virginia mountainside and having the cold literally take your breath away is something I’ll take with me forever.

 Sharing a first class meal with other hunters at a smelly deer processor is something that makes me shake my head and smile. Standing over a dead deer with the mixed emotions of excitement and respect are truly the feelings of a deer hunter.

 Watching bears, otters, squirrels, raccoons, bobcats, turkeys and all the small creatures of the forest come alive on a cold November morning is the true blessing of a hunter. These are the memories of a deer hunter.

 As a kid growing up in Central Florida, hunting was not high on the list of things to do. Fishing was the first outdoor interest I can remember, followed by baseball and then golf. All three activities are great fun, and to this day a round of golf with friends or catfishing at night is still a great time.

 But growing up as a Boy Scout I was introduced to camping. One of the first trips we took was to the Ocala National Forest. While there, we went for a hike one day and as we came to this large prairie there were about 10 deer standing in the middle. I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen a deer before being from the city. I just stood there in awe at the sight of seeing those wild animals.

 When I got home from the trip I told my Mom and Dad about the deer. I told them that some of the men were talking about the upcoming hunting season and my Dad explained that you could hunt deer and small game in some parts of the forest. My Dad, growing up in Tennessee, had done alot of small game hunting but never any deer hunting. I was about 12 years old at the time and I remember thinking that deer hunting would become a big part of my life one day.

 Finally at around 17 I bought my first gun and soon after went on my first deer hunt. It was cold and rainy and I didn’t know what I was doing, but it didn’t matter, I was a deer hunter.

For the next 32 years fall would mean long road trips to West Virginia, hunt camps that consisted of 10′ by 12′ tin sheds, camps on creek bottoms in Georgia, rented houses and simple tent camps. It really didn’t matter, I was a deer hunter.

                                                                                           Jeff Bright