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The Value of Hunting to Hunters

This section is continues the discussion started in the previous one, but instead focuses on what the hunting experience means to those who do it.

Why We Hunt: What it Means to Those Who Do It

The Cultural & Spiritual Values of Hunting

Hunting is not simple. It is the generator of our human condition, the crucible of intellect, and the fire of creativity. It is our mirror of the world, the image-maker of wild creation; it has defined how we see, literally and figuratively. 

"Hunting For Truth - Why Rationalizing The Ritual Must Fail" by Shane Mahoney

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When I must die, O river of peace and thunder,

Take my remains, let the fishes strip my bones,

Let beasts of the water gather and pull them asunder,

And scatter them far with the weed and the rolling stones.


Let one bone lie where the floods spread over the grasses,

And one where the barges moor in Katima bay,

One in the depths where the wandering hippo passes,

And one in Katongo sands where the skimmers play.


A bone shall repose in Libulibu’s reaches

‘Neath branches stooping to finger their mirrored forms,

And one by Naiende’s shaded beaches,

One in the straight broad stream where waves blow high in the



Leave one on a bank where the migrant birds assemble,

One by the Chobe bushbuck’s forested home,

A bone where a great croc dwells and the boatmen tremble,

And one under Katombora’s boisterous foam.


Let the eagle take one aloft on soaring pinions,

And drop it afar in the boundless gusi land,

Where the elephant walks, and the lion, and all their minions,

And there let it lie with the leaves and the burning sand.


The rest but one, O river, dispose and cherish,

Where your waters divide and a palm-clad island stands,

Where you take the hues of the west as the day-hues perish –

I care not where – in your rocks – in your creaking sand.


The last shall stay where the stream grows swift and swirling,

And, demon-driven, rushes to be destroyed,

Till over the verge in a reckless breaker curling,

The suicide flood leaps vastly into the void.


So I shall be merged with your beautiful, turbulent daughter

O earth, and a part of the wildness that nurtured me,

And I shall carouse with the devils and gods of the water,

As restless in death as in life I was restless and free.


And in winter dawns, when the tall reeds stir and shiver,

And the cold drops hang from the leaves at the waterside,

My spirit will rise with the morning mists from the river

To look on the scenes where I lived, adventured and died.


This poem was written by John Coleman's father, P. J. (Rufus) Coleman after John was badly mauled by a lion in 1962, nearly killing him

Explaining the Ineffable:
Why We Hunt as told by conservationists, enthusiasts, scientists, and philosophers

"To Understand Why We Hunt, You Must Know It."
(CLICK TO READ article by John J. Jackson III published in Hunter's Horn)

" I suppose it is impossible to explain this to those who do not know it."

- Aldo Leopold, 1946.

"Life is a great adventure, and the worst of all fears is the fear of living."

- Theodore Roosevelt


Hunting is how we fall in love with nature. The basic instinct links up with the spiritual, and the result is that we become married to nature. Among outdoor pursuits, hunting and fishing connect us most profoundly with animals and nature. As Robert Bly said in his best-selling book, Iron John, only hunting expands us sideways, "into the glory of oaks, mountains, glaciers, horses, lions, grasses, waterfalls, deer." - Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D. Read More

Hunting is an ancient human activity. As such it means experiencing an original way of life in unspoiled nature. Hunting can be the purest form of eco-tourism. - President Kai Uwe Denker, NAPHA's 40th Anniversary AGM, 2013, Read More

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt, Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee, In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game, Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my side. - Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

A world which a sacramental portion of food can be taken in an old way - hunting, fishing, and gathering - has as much to do with societal sanity as a day's work for a day's pay. Thomas McGuane, The Heart of the Game, 1997. 

"Hunting is our heritage, it is our poetry, it is our art,it is our pleasure. It is where many of our best friendships are made, it is our community. It is our whole way of life. - Barones Anne Mallalieu

As a minority, hunters are often asked, "Why do you hunt?" Once you learn of the power and beauty in the North American hunting heritage, you can simply answer, "Because it matters." - Jim Posewitz

To ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth - This was the Law of ancient Youth. Old times are past, old days done; but the Law runs true, O' little son! - Charles T. Davis 

The way to hunt is for as long as you live against as long as there is such and such an animal; just as the way to paint is as long as there is you and colors and canvas, and to write as long as you can live and there is pencil and paper or ink or any machine to do it with, or anything you care to write about, and you feel a fool, and you are a fool, to do it any other way. –Ernest Hemingway

"If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job."

- Jose Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting.

“To my mind, hunting and fishing is the big lure that takes us into the great open spaces and teaches us to forget the mean and petty things of life.”

- Leon Leonwood Bean (1872-1967) FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT (1912-1967) of L.L.Bean. 

Hunting, like all human occupations, has its different levels, and how little of the real work of hunting is suggested in words like diversion, relaxation, entertainment. A good hunter's way of hunting is a hard job, which demands much from man: he must keep himself fit, face extreme fatigue, accept danger. It involves a complete code of ethics of the most distinguished design; the hunter who accepts the sporting code of ethics keeps his commandments in the greatest solitude, with no witness or audience other than the sharp peaks of the mountain, the roaming cloud, the stern oak, the trembling juniper, and the passing animal. In this way hunting resembles the monastic rule and the military order.

- Joes Orega Y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting, 1943

"The driving force [to hunt and conserve] is adventure as much as respect, protection and love for nature." -Natasha Illum

People may paint and photograph camps and campfires, until doomsday; but after all they are mostly tame and spiritless.  One might as well try to paint the perfume of orange blossoms, or the charm of a lovely woman's manner, for all are equally futile.  But those who have camped in the lap of Nature, far from the haunts of man, far beyond the last trail and the ultimate tin can, can realize without any pictures the composite sensations of awe, of triumph, and of rare satisfaction which filled our souls".  - William T. Hornaday. "Camp-Fires in the Canadian Rockies."  Boone & Crockett Club

"I am convinced that there can be no better conservators of the sensible and provident protection of game and fish than those who are enthusiastic in their pursuit."

- Grover Cleveland, In Defense of Fisherman, The Saturday Evening Post, October 1901


I hunt because my father hunted, and he took me with him, and so we built a bond that I still cherish.

I do not need to hunt to eat, but I need to hunt to be fully who I am.

I hunt because it links me with the boy I used to be and with the young man my father was then.

I hunt because if I did not, I would have seen fewer eagles and ospreys, minks and beavers, foxes and bears, antelope and moose.

I hunt because it is never boring or disappointing to be out-of-doors with a purpose, even when no game is spotted.

I hunt for the satisfying exhaustion after a long day in the woods, for the new stories that every day of hunting gives us, and for the soft snoring and dream whimpering and twitching of sleeping dogs on the backseat as we drive home through the darkness.

I hunt because it keeps my passions alive and my memories fresh and my sense alert even as my beard grows gray, and because I am afraid that if I stopped hunting, I would instantly become an old man, and because I believe that as long as I hunt, I will remain young.

-Author Anonymous

We must come to understand that in watching them, in pursuing them, in striking out onto paths that enter their world and leave ours behind, we are afforded the greatest and most profound experiences of our lives. It is true that wild country, in and of itself, is a remarkable tonic for the soul, but like the stained glass of a cathedral, it is the wild creatures that inhabit such places that catch and refract the light of existence. They are the portals through which we glimpse the enduring value of life and the universal inevitability of death. It is only in their midst that we can experience the full spectrum of our humanness. - Shane Mahoney

The Hunter's Campfire

"I've always been mesmerized by campfires--they are calming, comforting, and of course warming-- and to me are inseparable from what I consider the "essence of the hunt."  

-William T. Hornaday 1905 written in the aftermath of a month-long bighorn sheep, goat and grizzly hunt in British Columbia's Elk River

"People may paint and photograph camps and campfires, until doomsday; but after all they are mostly tame and spiritless.  One might as well try to paint the perfume of orange blossoms, or the charm of a lovely woman's manner, for all are equally futile.  But those who have camped in the lap of Nature, far from the haunts of man, far beyond the last trail and the ultimate tin can, can realize without any pictures the composite sensations of awe, of triumph, and of rare satisfaction which filled our souls"

-William T. Hornaday.  "Camp-Fires in the Canadian Rockies."  

Houston Safari Club - Why We Hunt

Why We Fish

"It is with a rod and reel in my hand that I tend to count my blessings."

- President George H.W. Bush

If David catches this fish he'll have something inside him for all his life and it will make everything else easier. - Ernest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream

 [M]y devotion to marlin of all species...(is because)...the opportunity they offer for a thorough reconsideration of my rank in the world. Less ardent than cold-blooded fish. Less audacious. Less free....the marlin - their striped flanks alight with a violet fluorescence, their pectoral fins spread as wide as wings.


- Peter Fong, Gray's Sporting Journal

Fishing is an inherently rewarding way of spending time and satisfying a boyish sense of wonder of the natural world we inherit. It is the other face of the sportsmen and women of the world. Fishing and hunting help us understand the other, and ourselves, and our delight in the natural world. Fishing, like hunting, deifies the catch, electrifies us and makes us more complete. - John J. Jackson, III

“It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been fishing or how many times you’ve caught fish in different places, that feeling of getting tight with a fish on the other end never, ever gets old.”

— Jake Rogers, firefighter/paramedic for Park City, Utah

I find that the more I fish, the more connected I am to the value of the resource. The more I value the resource, the harder I work and volunteer to ensure its strength and health.

- Patrick Murray, CCA National President

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