It’s 5-something when the alarm goes off. I will myself out of bed despite the fact that it’s Saturday morning. “You only get so many days like this,” I mumble. Twenty minutes later, my boots are crunching across the frost as I make my way to the old Indian mound. I settle in and my heart rate slows as I sit in the pitch-black darkness, waiting for the world to wake up. I doze off for a few minutes and awake to the chorus of the woods as the sky turns gray, then pink. There is no blackberry, no TV, no conference calls, no routine, no voices—just birds and squirrels going about their business.
It’s close to 7 a.m. when I see gray shapes slip out of the tree line. The thrill that shoots up my spine wipes the November cold from my limbs. There’s something primal about the first sight of game. Alert and careful, the column of whitetail deer emerges for breakfast. A peek through the binoculars reveals they’re all does and yearlings, exactly what I’m looking for. I wait for them to calm down and start browsing on the edge between the forest and the field. Even from 200 yards away, the deer sense that something isn’t quite right. Every few seconds the lead doe’s head bolts upward with her eyes and ears locked on my location; her nostrils test the air but the wind is in my face. I dare not blink. When her head eases down in search of another acorn I make my move, raising the 7x57 up until I’m in a solid, seated position. I pull the stock tight to my shoulder and cheek, rest my triceps on my knees and dig my heels into the earth to anchor the whole package into a steady platform. I take a breath and exhale most of it as the crosshairs settle into a small orbit on her shoulder—it’s never as steady as it is in the movies. Even with the light kick of the Mauser, I lose sight of her in the recoil. The sound of the bullet’s impact echoes across the thick morning air and lets me know that it found its mark.
There’s a sense of elation as I approach her, but there’s no high-fiving or celebration. There’s just a quiet moment between hunter and quarry before my knife comes out and the real work begins. I live in a city and wear a suit to work, but this is where the food on my family’s table comes from. It’s as organic as it gets: no hormones, no feed, no fences, no styrofoam and cellophane under the flouorescent lights of the grocery store. This is hunting.
Here are six reasons why everyone should hunt:
1. It’s safe
2. It’s healthy
3. It helps the planet
4. It’s good for the species
5. It saves money and helps the economy
And according to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, hunting is responsible for 600,000 U.S jobs, $66 billion in economic activity and $10 billion in state and federal tax revenue.
6. It's good for your family