Hunting is not just about trophies

Most people I know who hunt do it for more than bragging rights. Sure, dreams of a Boone and Crockett mule deer or a Pope and Young elk go through all of our minds, but hunting’s not just about the trophies.

Even hunters I know who pay thousands of dollars to go on safaris or Alaskan adventures don’t do it just for the trophies. I know quite a few people who have had to add a room to their houses to display their collection of mounts, but even those folks usually say there’s more to the hunt than what they hang on their walls.

Far more of my hunting friends are more like me – we might get lucky and get the chance to hunt in another state someday, but nearly all of our hunting experiences happen right here in the Cowboy State.

There are quite a few reasons we hunt. We like the healthy meat it provides for our families. We know hunting plays a vital role in the management of the populations of all wild animals – not just the ones we hunt. We look forward to the time we spend in the field with our friends and family. We know it gives us a reason to stay in shape, and the hunts themselves test our fitness and survival abilities. We relish the opportunity to get outside and experience nature.

If you ask most hunters, even those who might have their names in a hunting record book somewhere, what the top 10 reasons they hunt are, coming home with a trophy animal might not even make the list. I wish there were an easy way to explain to those who don’t hunt that most hunters aren’t just bloodthirsty killers. We value the species we don’t hunt as highly as we value the ones we do hunt. Our license fees, taxes on hunting equipment, conservation group dues and other fees pay almost the entire bill for conservation efforts.

And we police our own, we follow the rules, and we protect more wildlife than we hunt. If we get a big bull elk or a massive pronghorn buck, that’s great.

But most of us are happy with whatever we can get.

You can’t eat antlers or horns anyway.