Hunting is about more than getting an animal

There are a lot of reasons I hunt. I had a chance to think about all of them when I went hunting last week with my kids.

As we were sitting around in camp on our hunt last week, my sons and I were talking about the things we’d seen that day. My youngest said he wished we’d had a chance to take a shot at a deer, but he said he had fun anyway. My oldest echoed his statements, and then he said he thinks he understands why I hunt.

We’d walked several miles into the forest that morning, and we’d seen plenty of tracks of deer and elk. Some were fresh, and some were less so. We’d seen rub trees, and like the tracks, some of them had been battered by animals trying to scratch the velvet off their antlers only days before. At one point, as we were walking, one of us snapped a twig, and we caught a glimpse of tan hair zipping through the trees.

When we got to a good meadow, we sat down to watch. I put Logan behind some brush off to my right, and Colby nestled in a stand of trees to the left. I moved between them when I could. Colby and I watched a squirrel packing pine cones off to its midden for a while, and when I moved over to Logan, he and I watched a mouse nibbling on grass no more than a foot from Logan’s hiking boot.

Canada jays and a Steller’s Jay swooped in to check us out, and the boys were amused by the birds’ abilities to mimic my cow elk bark.

On the way back to camp, we watched a little bull moose browsing on willows. We saw a bald eagle flying over the treetops, and when we got near the creek, we saw an osprey gliding over the water, looking for lunch.

The boys both said they couldn’t ask for more. It was quiet in the woods, but there was plenty of activity to watch if they paid attention. And being miles from the nearest cell signal allowed them to forget about their phones for a bit.

It didn’t matter that we didn’t get an elk or a deer. We had a successful hunt anyway.

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