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Hunting, to me...

By Derek Brown

Our passion for hunting is something that is not set in stone.  But instead
is ever changing, transforming itself into something different for each and
every person that takes part.  Hunting is an art form.  We start raw and
untouched.  Like a giant block of granite, waiting for the artists tools to
go to work.  Every time we take to the field we somehow get changed little
by little.  In the beginning, we soak up all the information possible and
go to sleep dreaming of what will be.  The first animal taken opens up a
flood of emotions.  Along with it raw untapped energy that we never knew we
had.  It fuels our dreams of the next day, week and year.  Hunt by hunt,
animal by animal our desires, emotions and love changes.  At first it’s
all about learning and trying to put your skills to the ultimate test, more
often then not ending in failure. The little things that are so important
still escape us.  Our hearts pound in our chests, the adrenaline pours
through our veins, our lungs surging with every breath and our nerves shake
us to our core.  All of this results in the awakening of an inner spirit
that has been lying dormant all our lives and is now just beginning to
stir. When the first animal falls a new predator is born to this world.  A
world with new adventures and possibilities sits before us, waiting for us
to take it on.  Whether we used a bow or firearm doesn’t really matter,
it’s what happens inside us at that moment in time, that will forever
change our perception of who we are and where we fit into this world of
predator and prey.

As the years pass along and our knowledge and passion grows, our perception
of what the hunt is changes dramatically.  I remember my first deer hunt as
a kid.  I wanted a deer, any deer, more then anything.  To my way of
thinking, it was my first step to becoming a man.  I wanted to show my
father and grandfather what I was capable of.  I wanted to show them that I
had been paying attention to them every day of every year.  That I was
learning all I could and that they had not failed me as my teachers.

Now that I’ve been on many hunts, in many places, it’s not all about
the taking of an animal anymore.  I’ve come to realize that the taking of
an animal is secondary to the enjoyment and amazement of what nature has
created. I’m most at peace with myself and my life sitting alone in a
frozen ground blind in Canada.  How spiritually, I feel closer to God
overlooking the giant peaks of the Rocky Mountains then I ever have in
church. I made my peace with my grandfathers passing on a mountain top in
Colorado, after taking a bull elk with his rifle.  I was able to say
goodbye my way, in a place we both loved and were a part of.  I’ve not
used his rifle since, nor do I want to.

I’ve fruitlessly tried to explain these unseen, but deep felt emotions to
my wife.  I might as well have tried to explain the intricacies of nuclear
fission to her in French.  Neither of which I can do or have the slightest
knowledge of.  Yet she understands that this is who I am.  That this is
what makes me whole, even though she will never partake in it with me.  And
that’s ok.

My statue of granite has changed dramatically since I was young.  I now
have it in rough form with much work still to be done.  New chapters in my
life will again undoubtedly change my perception of hunting. I’m sure my
children will leave a lasting mark on my hunting life.  Too see the awe in
their eye’s as a young fawn crosses the road in front of us or the hawk
chasing a marooned rabbit running down a corn row, I know they have the
sportsman spirit within them. It’s just a matter of, will they choose to
unleash that power or keep it inside them.  Hunting is not something that I
can make them do nor should I.  It’s a choice that they’ll have to make
for themselves, when the time comes.  I’ve tried to show them my passion
and respect for the animals I pursue. I use whatever chances I get to pass
on some of the information I’ve learned through the years to them.  I
just hope that at least some of them decide to follow in my footsteps and
help me finish my statue before the end comes.  I can’t think of a better
finishing touch to my work of art, then to have my children and hopefully
grandchildren finish it with me.