Written By Bill Howard
I’ve been given the honor and opportunity to write a column about something I dearly love and enjoy. Who could pass up a chance to write a column on hunting and fishing? So with the pertinent task of coming up with something so special that it would send the public into a frenzy to purchase this periodical, I began wondering; do I open with a short autobiography? Well, that would certainly send everyone into frenzy, but not the type the editor would like!
How about a few stories of hunting successes this season? That will surely follow, and at the end of the column will be a contact address for you to send information and pictures of your trophies.
But for the first column, I’ve decided to explain why we hunt, what we hunt, and why it is important.
Fred Bear, a man known as the father of bow hunting, once said “Don’t base the fun or experience of hunting on whether you get an animal or not. The kill is way, way down the line. You can enjoy the woods. You can enjoy the companionship of the birds, and the fish, and the animals, the color of the leaves…” It really holds true. Some of my best experiences have been without the climactic shot to bring down the game.
Every fisherman remembers the ‘one that got away’, but may not be able to tell you anything about the three fish he caught two weeks ago. The beauty of God’s canvas with you being an integral but non-invasive part of it, that’s really the goal.
As outdoorsmen, our targets are usually the majestic whitetail deer with a crown of bone, or we may hope to bring in the strutting tom eager to meet a new mate. The trout may be fooled into attacking a cork with feathers believing it to be an unlucky insect. All have garnered our passions; our unrelenting efforts in pursuit of the biggest and most beautiful of Darwinian challenges. We have entered nature’s domain, and blended in and became part of nature. We accepted the challenge and try to conquer nature in its own territory.
We come up with reasons for hunting and fishing, such as nature tends to overproduce, or disease and famine will destroy more wildlife than hunters if we do not help balance the carrying capacity of the land. But really, what I have found goes back to what Fred Bear stated. I do not have the first dove I killed mounted on the wall. But I do have a fond memory of hunting with my grandfather and my father. I was using an old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that my grandfather and father used as a child.
I also have a wonderful memory, and fortunately, a wonderful picture of my son and me walking off a field in Eastern North Carolina with two tundra swans on our shoulders. My son used the old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that I used as a child. Hunting is a bridge of generations. It’s a constant with many variables. It’s something we must protect, but we must not abuse. This is why we do what we do and why we enjoy it so.
I look forward to sharing your hunting and fishing experiences, as well as thought provoking and entertaining insights through this column each week.
Editor’s Note: “Bill Howard Outdoors” is a new weekly series that will be published every Saturday in the new Outdoor Living feature section.