In addition to the value of harvesting low-fat, high-protein meat for the table, there are many benefits that factor into the decision to be a hunter.
The first faint hint of dawn spread across the eastern sky, awakening the resident wildlife to a new day. The birds began to flit about and make their presence known with distinctive sounds. The beavers had been active throughout much of the night, but they were now visible as they navigated the narrow channels from a small pond to the swift flow of the river. Occasionally, an otter was recognized by his distinctive undulating pattern of swimming.
Hunting benefits beyond the meat
I have been guilty of hunting alone on many trips each season. It is not that companionship is unwanted, but too much conversation and noise often discourages wildlife from being as active. Hunting alone has many rewards, but brings with it the requirement for extra vigilance to avoid injury, since no immediate help is available.
Hunters using an elevated stand should always use a body harness to avoid dangerous falls. The harness should be used in climbing and descending, as most injuries occur during these periods. Also, keep a cell phone in your pocket in case of an emergency so help could be summoned if needed.
Taking wild game is exciting for hunters and it provides a low-fat source of excellent protein. In addition, for the knowledgeable sportsman:
- The skin can be tanned for various uses
- Feathers can be used to tie flies for fly fishing
- Bones and antlers may be used for knife handles and other projects.
Wild game is a valuable resource and is protected by special seasonal requirements and bag limits. Taxes from sporting equipment are channeled into conservation projects that provide for wildlife habitat. This helps hunters, but also is of benefit to birdwatchers, wildlife photographers and others.
It would be sad if hunters did not also enjoy the opportunity to appreciate the non-game species, the beautiful habitat, the early morning awakening of nature and all that God has provided for our benefit. To say that we are unsuccessful if we do not harvest a game animal is very short-sighted. The real benefit comes from the solitude, the beauty and the act of immersing ourselves into the environment.
Enjoy the Picturesque Scenery While Hunting
As the first rays of sunlight began to filter through the treetops, a tiny Ruby-throated hummingbird was visible as it flitted from bloom to bloom on the weedy vegetation that spread out below, across the swampy area. He would be joined by a couple more later in the morning.
A tufted titmouse perched on a limb close by. Being dressed in full camouflage, including a face net, I made some soft chirping sounds. It moved closer, trying to identify the source of the sound. It played the game for a while, then moved on.
As I moved to photograph a nearby beaver, four wood ducks that had paddled unobserved into one of the narrow channels saw the movement and flushed wildly with their familiar, haunting calls. They swiftly disappeared, as did the beaver.
Soon after, a Cooper's hawk moved downstream, following the path of the river to some unknown destination, on the search for a likely victim.
As mid-morning approached, the wildlife show slowed down. The only sounds were the croaks of frogs responding to the warm temperature, and the hypnotic sounds of mosquitoes buzzing around me. The Thermocell® unit hanging on a hook nearby with my backpack was keeping the mosquitoes at bay. As noon approached, I descended from the tree, packed my gear and headed for the canoe.
It had only been a few hours since paddling up the river in the dark for approximately a mile. I had entered the swampland to hang a stand in pursuit of whitetail deer with a longbow. Although no deer appeared, it was a successful trip. There was the never-ending spectacle that nature provides on such expeditions into the back country.
A quiet morning in the forest provides a renewal of our spirit and helps us to realize more fully our place in the universe. We are but a small part of the vast world around us. We strive to make a contribution to society, but our time is fleeting. We can only hope to have left a mark that will have some lasting significance--a kind word at a needed time, a smile for a friend, an unsolicited kindness or a helping hand to someone.
A final word of advice--don’t forget your camera!