Daydreaming about what has been my favorite week of the year for more than 50 years — a week at deer camp — I got to thinking again about the somewhat cerebral aspect of the deer hunt. Why do we hunt? Why, specifically, do I hunt?

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

If you have ever spent a week at deer camp, you know that at day’s end, when the sweaty long johns are drying over the stoked wood stove and your camp mates are running an oiled patch through the barrel of their deer guns, the camp chatter covers a diverse range of topics from deer tracking and deer habits to hunting regulations and weather changes.

Oddly enough, in all of these years, I have no recollection of deer camp conversation that raised the bedrock question: why do we hunt? Perhaps this is because, among serious deer hunters, the question need not be asked; it is understood by all. Of course, as individuals, each of us deer-camp regulars may differ in the way we view the hunt or in what it means to us, but there are common threads that tie us all together as kindred souls.

A hunter has never asked me why I hunt. But others in my life, some anti-hunters and some non-hunters who are merely curious, have put the question to me, at times in a “loaded” fashion.

If you care deeply as I do about your hunting heritage, which is a “socially granted privilege,” not a Constitutional right, it doesn’t hurt to give the question some thought. It can help you better explain yourself to those in your life who don’t share your view or approve of your sport.

Here is what some digging turned up in regard to the eternal question.


“The two factors to which I attribute my enjoyment of hunting are: One, an innate interest, fascination really, with nature and wildlife. Two, through the interactions of the two, I learned to read the pulse of this planet and to better understand the equation of life and death.” — Tom Hennessey

“Essentially, hunting is a spiritual experience precisely because it submerges us in nature, and that experience teaches us that we are participants in something far greater than ourselves.” — Randall L. Eaton

“I hunt for a variety of reasons. Essentially, I love the entire process: scouting, target shooting, game cameras, food plots, looking for signpost rubs up north. I especially love being out there with family and great friends. It is the adventures and memories we create that are priceless. My son and I love tracking on snow (when we have it) around Moosehead. We love the challenge and thrill of just being in those mountains and bogs, following tracks, trying to catch up to the deer that made them. How can you beat that?

Then, we get fresh, wholesome, organic meat if we are fortunate enough to get a deer. We love it all.” — Michael Maines

“I only know that hunting is in my bones, an inherent part of the fabric of my life. A gatherer by nature, I derive great satisfaction from growing edible plants or taking my own fish and meat far from the supermarkets. I, too, relish the solitude and personal challenge that deer hunting allows.” — V. Paul Reynolds

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at [email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.