I’ve been asked by non-hunters a couple of times variations on “you think it’s fun to kill innocent creatures? Are you mental?” I replied that of course killing isn’t fun. But it got me to thinking… what IS the “fun” part of hunting?
Let me see here… Spending money on “good” equipment, only to find out it isn’t, and having to spend more on something else? No, that’s not it.
Driving out to some remote place to camp out in the cold? Nah.
Getting up early, in the pitch black, often in freezing temperatures, or wind, or precipitation, or all three, as many times as needed? Nope, assuredly not.
Freezing my butt off for hours, or stomping around broken terrain looking for something that is really good at hiding? No.
Pulling the trigger? Not really.
Bending over for a while, gutting it out? Dragging a carcass that weights as nearly as much as I do, perhaps more, out of the deep weeds? Skinning, butchering it in the field, boning it out, grinding burger and packaging all the parts, sawing up bones for the dogs, filing a hunting report, cleaning all the equipment? Not those things, either.
Eating the final product? No, I wouldn’t call that fun. It’s good, but not “fun.”
And I think there is the rub. Fun is the wrong word. I think the right word is “satisfying.” Hunting successfully is something that takes some reasonable skill and effort to do well, and a bit of luck. It’s a task that not everyone is willing or able to do. It has an end product (venison) that is worth the effort. It’s a very primal sort of activity that fires up something deep down in the lowest level of our brains that says “I went out, got food, I am useful, life is good.” There isn’t any “part” of it that is really fun, though there are moments of beauty, and wonder, and surprise, and frustration, and boredom. But it is satisfying in a way that nothing else is, because food is at a lower “need” level than companionship, or fun, or just about anything other than water and air.
And related to it, a lot of spouses don’t “Get it,” in part because their “gatherer” instincts can be met by going to the supermarket. They resent the time and effort spent to go out and get the kill, and it’s a mystery to them. When they are not supportive, or actively resent it and make their feelings known, it causes friction. When they are supportive and say “I don’t get it, but it makes you happy and it puts food on the table, have a nice time, dear!” the guy thinks he’s got the greatest wife in the world (fortunately I am in this category), and he’s more likely to willingly put up with the things the spousal unit does that don’t make any sense to HIM.
And a lot of that friction, particularly in modern society, when all our basic needs are so abundantly well met, is all because to many adults only see “fun” things as being proper to pursue, like a child, rather than merely being “satisfied” at a very basic level.