Why Do You Hunt?
A Georgia veterinarian had to answer to classmates who couldn’t believe the same man going to school to save animals would also hunt them.
Andrew Curtis | November 3, 2021
Why do we like to hunt and fish? What is that feeling that keeps pulling us back? Most of you reading this article know the magic I am referring to, but this feeling is incredibly elusive to articulate.
I found myself faced with a similar question during my first year in vet school. In order to get acquainted with our classmates on the first week of school, we were asked to tell about ourselves while standing in front of the classroom. I mentioned that my interests, among other things, included hunting and fishing. Later that day, I was “attacked” by several fellow students who demanded to know how I could “kill animals” and yet still aspire to be a veterinarian, to help heal animals. Although caught off guard, I carefully thought about how I would answer the accusatory question.
The wonderful feelings and memories began to dance in my conscious mind as I conjured up some of my most treasured hunting and fishing moments, all of which included someone else in the story. I saw the faces of the ones I loved, some of whom were no longer here. I saw my grandfather helping me catch my first bass. I saw my dad sitting beside me for my first deer kill. I saw my brother smiling next to my first trophy buck. I saw my best friends in a collage burst of moments in the woods or on the water. I saw what made me who I was.
“It’s the relationships,” I responded coolly. “Hunting and fishing connect me to people in a way in which nothing else I have found ever can.”
I calmly exited the room, realizing that my most in-depth response would be in vain. What these people did not intend was for me to walk away with more peace than before, but since that day I have thought a great deal about “why” I like to hunt and fish. A deeper appreciation for this outdoor lifestyle entered me as I departed them that day, an appreciation that has only grown.
Several years later, this appreciation is what would lead me to one of the most inspirational influences of my life, Mr. Andrews. Hunting, fishing, and antler knives were the glue that put us together. Ultimately, Mr. Andrews would bring clarity to what brought us together in the first place and provide me with a more firm understanding of “why” I like to hunt and fish.
He showed me through simply living his life. Moments are what matter most. Hunting and fishing are a collection of moments, and we must find a way to slow this fast-paced world to see the moments around us.
Perhaps my opinion is a bit biased, but hunters and fishermen have a deeper appreciation for these moments. Our hobby takes us to nature, to an intimate world where sounds can be seen and sights can be heard. Anyone who has sat in a deer stand in the evening can understand what it means to hear the “sound of the sun going down.” The sights and sounds from the woods and water seem to become one. It is a language that we can understand without having to fully understand each other. The hunting and fishing community is strong and can unite people of different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.
Think about what hunting and fishing mean to you. It is our duty to this country to pass on the tradition to the next generation so they too can experience the wonderful moments that the outdoors can offer. I am mighty proud to be connected to the GON community and feel a solidarity here that I struggle to find elsewhere.
Editor’s Note: Andrew Curtis is a small animal veterinarian in Valdosta. His book about Mr. Andrews, Famous Catfish Stew, is available through his website andrewcartercurtis.com.
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In my opinion, your answer was good – don’t get me wrong – but perhaps a little sentimental for a response to a legitimate question by your classmates. When I get asked the same question by others (which happens quite often in suburban Atlanta) I answer roughly what you said and add the most relevant part: because I like knowing where my food comes from and participating in harvesting it versus paying for someone else to do it. That has never failed to hit the mark and get them thinking.
People criticize hunting all the time, never once thinking about their part as supermarket and restaurant consumers in the meat industry. I’m not faulting them, but simply pointing out that hunting for game is generally seen by never-hunters as looking to “put a head on the wall.” That may be the case for some, but it’s so much more than that for the majority of us hunting Americans. And for many of us, it starts with providing our families with healthy food first.
Just my two cents!