Welcome to episode #2 of The Sacred Hunt. A common misconception or criticism that many people have about hunting is that it’s nothing more than murdering animals and that hunters are depraved individuals who just plain enjoy killing. Now as I mentioned in episode #1 of this series, there are some in the hunting community who unfortunately fit that description, but for the vast majority of hunters, this is not the case. Yes, death is an unmistakable part of a successful hunt. In the grand scheme of things though, death is an unmistakable part of life itself. The cycle of life and death is an undeniable reality, and every living creature plays a part in that cycle. A governing rule of life on planet earth is that something must die in order for something else to live. Everything we humans (as well as other living creatures) use to survive and thrive ultimately comes from resources that were once alive, whether it’s the wood we build our homes out of or the plants and animals we consume to nourish our bodies.
Those who hunt with the proper intentions are hands-on stewards of our natural renewable resources and active participants in nature’s cycle of life, not just casual observers who essentially pay others to produce the food they eat. As I often remind non-hunters, while filling the freezer with healthy, organic meat is the ultimate end goal of the hunt, the actual killing of an animal is a very small part of the process and a tiny fraction of the hunting experience as a whole.
Silence & Solitude
Hunting is an activity that often involves long hours of silence and solitude, both of which are precious commodities in our noisy, busy, hectic world. Whether it’s a matter of driving for many hours to a hunting location, taking a boat ride to get there, or flying to your destination, the time spent in travel is a wonderful opportunity for meaningful conversation with friends or family. And, if you’re hunting alone, it’s a great time to empty your mind of stress and distractions. If you’re a person of faith, as I am, those quiet hours are also the perfect time for prayer, for talking with the Lord, and perhaps even more importantly, listening to the Lord. It’s not too often that we take the time or make the time to do nothing but consciously listen to the voice of God speaking in our minds and hearts.
Along with the time spent traveling, there’s much more time spent in silence and solitude while on the actual hunt, especially when doing things like deer hunting from a tree stand or sitting on a mountaintop glassing for game for hours on end, as one often does on Alaska-style, open country hunts. Again, all those hours spent in peace a quiet is truly a soul-cleansing experience. While hunting can certainly be very rigorous and physically exhausting, it’s amazing how spiritually and mentally renewed and refreshed you can be after a hunt. For many hunters, this is what they long for the most and the primary reason they go hunting…perhaps even more so than putting meat in the freezer.
The Paradox of the Hunt
There is a great paradox in hunting. While harvesting fresh, organic meat for one’s family is the ultimate end goal, it’s never fun to actually kill an animal. There is nothing joyful or exciting about watching an animal die. Hunters have the responsibility and the duty to practice with their weapon of choice to ensure a quick, clean, ethical end to an animal’s life, but again, there is always an underlying feeling of sadness to watch a beautiful animal die. But at the same time, there is also a feeling of intense satisfaction that the hunt was successful, that all the planning, preparation, and hard work was not in vain, that indeed, one will be going home with a supply of food for the months to come. It’s this sense of satisfaction that gives one a good feeling, and the harder one had to work to make that hunt successful, the greater that good feeling will be…sometimes to the point of jubilant celebration!
The taking of an animal’s life is also an act that evokes tremendous, humble gratitude. As many serious hunters do, both modern and primitive, after successfully harvesting an animal, I get down on my knees and thank God for this great gift as well as paying homage to the animal itself, expressing my thankfulness for its life and promising that I will not waste any of its meat. No matter if it’s a magnificent record book-sized buck or a doe such as this one, I’m equally thankful for every animal I harvest and I treat every one with the same sense of sacred respect.
The Work Begins
As any hunter will tell you, the real work begins after the animal is down, especially if it’s a big game animal. Field dressing the animal, removing all the edible portions of meat, including the organs, and then packing all the meat out of the woods and ultimately back home can be a great deal of hard work, especially on remote hunts where you may have to pack all that meat out for miles and miles through rugged terrain, all the while being mindful of other “hunters” on the prowl, such as bears and wolves.
And, the work doesn’t end there, for many hunters such as myself, once the meat is all back home, then comes the task of butchering, processing, packaging, and properly storing all that meat until it’s time to cook it up for a delicious meal…many of which I feature here at this channel, by the way. All the butchering and processing is yet another task that can take hours of time to complete.
The Hunt Lives On
When the animal that a hunter harvests finally makes it to the dinner table, every bite is one of gratitude. One can’t help but to experience all the memories and all the emotions of the hunt once again. To top it off, the experience of the hunt and the animal that was harvested literally become part of you as the protein from that animal now becomes a part of your own body. It’s in such truly sacred moments that one realizes that the cycle of life continues. And out of all the hours, days, weeks, and even months that are sometimes required to bring about a successful hunt, less than half a second was dedicated to killing. For indeed, the vast majority of the hunting experience is about life, not death.
Check out the video below to see more...