Growing up, I never could get excited about playing sports like basketball or baseball. Outside of spending time with friends and my family, the monotony of shooting hoops or playing catch never appealed to me as it did to others in my neighborhood. For a long time, I thought I was just not coordinated or disciplined enough to enjoy the sports that everyone around me lived and breathed. It wasn’t until later in my life and after some tough remote country hunts that I really began to appreciate the unique challenge and reward that I felt could only be found in the outdoors.
On a spring hunt earlier this year, some buddies and I embarked on a boat-based Alaskan adventure that was complete with deep water fishing for halibut, jigging for all varieties of rockfish, and spot-and- stalk black bear hunting each afternoon. I feel blessed to have even been present in the coastal areas of Southcentral Alaska watching whales work the tides and bears work the tidal flats. One morning, I set off by myself up the river corridor to find an ambush spot for a feeding black bear.
As I watched, waited, and pondered all of the outcomes, an old boar appeared in the clearing he had probably grazed in countless days beforehand. As he and I closed the distance toward each other, I couldn’t help but get excited not knowing if the stalk would prove successful and if my shot would fly true. The uncertainty of hunting situations such as this are critical to the health of my soul. Call it what you will, buck fever, addiction, the shakes, or just plain insanity. I love it. Perhaps I could have found such personal drive and internal competition in mainstream sports, but at this point in my life, I would not trade my hunting passion for any other pastime.
This summer, I had the opportunity to help my oldest daughter through a hunter safety course. As she learned about and answered a plethora of ridiculous questions about tree stand harnesses, field dressing, and how to use cheesecloth, I reminded her that there is much more of a rewarding emotional experience at stake here. I want her to be part of this sport with me, and I hope she can learn more about herself, her Creator, and her passions as we go on hunts together.
As the old adage says, “I do not hunt to kill, I kill to have hunted.” This drive to learn, evolve my thoughts and reactions, and experience the unpredictable keep me heading out into the field each year.