I’m concered about what the preliminary whitetail deer harvest numbers are going to show in West Virginia. Since 2008, the Mountain State has seen a steady decrease in harvested deer – something I’ve touched on before – and after speaking to fellow hunters since bowseason opened in September, I have a gut feeling that trend is continuing.
Several factors play into this, but I’d like to touch on two that I think are the most important.
Planning trips to go hunting or fishing just to come up short is nothing less than disappointing. Not all of us are lucky enough to have plenty of acres or a body of water out of our backdoor that we can walk out into in search of whatever our hearts desire that day.
But one thing that I think all hunters and anglers share is the mindset that it’s not about the daily yield, but rather the experience of being outdoors in general.
It may not be at the forefront of thought while we’re out there, but the basic opportunity to escape and take part in something like deer hunting or boating upholds the work of many people over a century in the United States.
Sometimes we complain about the rising prices of hunting licenses, but don’t immediately think that those extra dollars are going to help conservation efforts. We become dismayed about public land being overstocked but don’t try to get permission from our neighbors who own prime hunting grounds. And we complain about not bagging a “trophy” buck when we get a perfectly fine 8-point that helps fill up the freezer.
And there are some of us – something I begrudgingly admit that I’ve been a part of – that run out to buy new gear hoping to use it on an upcoming hunt and don’t have the picturesque trip we envisioned. What we don’t do, though, is absorb the moment. We don’t take in the songbirds floating around us, or the chipmunks scurrying across the ground looking for shelter and a quick bite to eat. We also don’t think about the person next to us (if there is someone) and what it means to have the privilege to hang out with them in the wild.
Sitting among nature is a cathartic experience a lot of people don’t get a chance to frequently experience. For those who are religious, there are many texts that hit on the environment and our place in it. One quote from The New Testament comes in Luke 17:20-21: “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
I promise I’m not going to preach to you.
Although slightly ironic that I’m implying the kingdom of God is observable, Christ is saying that we fail to see the kingdom that surrounds us. In our present-day world ravaged by climate change, laden with technology and ruptured by radical politics, sometimes it’s needed to escape into the wilderness and connect with our inner-being.
After all, we’re naturally a hunting species that settled down into agrarian culture when the nomadic life wasn’t fully sustainable. Even then, our ancestors still hunted to sustain themselves when crops and other forms of survival slipped.
Even if you don’t hunt or fish, being out in the midst of the wilderness is enlightening, refreshing and captivating. Get out there – your mind, body and soul need it.
SMITHSBURG, Md. – It’s crazy to think that an area four hours from your normal hunting spot would breed different quirks in the same animal, but that seemed to be the case when scoping out squirrels in the hills of western Maryland.