During the 43rd annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, NWTF spokesperson and long-time hunter Brenda Valentine gave a talk titled “Why We Hunt.” Valentine listed eight reasons why she engages in the great tradition of hunting to help give the audience a greater confidence in their own justifications for hunting.
“I want you to leave armed with reasons you can give without having to dig, search, scratch your head and stumble around,” Valentine said. “Whichever reason seems to suit you the best, you carry that reason in your back pocket so you can pull it out fast whenever you need it.”
Her reasons for hunting are as follows:
- Food – The most essential reason she hunts, and the most primary reason for hunting since the dawn of time, is it provides food.
- Companionship – “I think of spouses; I think of hunting buddies,” Valentine said. “Probably, I think one reason we lose a lot of hunters is they lose their companion. What about your favorite old bird dog … A lot of people hunt for the companionship.”
- The Challenge – “I think as hunters, we are a self-challenging bunch of people,” she said. “We don’t want it to be easy. We want to test ourselves and see if we’re up to the challenge.”
- Conservation – Valentine said conservation is a major explanation for why she and others hunt, as hunters are the top conservationists in America through the purchase of licenses and donations to organizations like the NWTF. Treasuring our wildlife through hunting allows them to continue to exist. “Without hunting, there would be no wildlife. Without wildlife, there would be no hunting.”
- Rite of Passage – “There’s probably not a kid on that [consumer show] floor down there that can’t tell you in detailed description the first turkey they killed or their very first deer. That is their rite of passage. Up until they do that, it’s like, ‘I’m going to be a hunter someday,’ or ‘My daddy is a hunter,’ or ‘I’m going to go hunting,’ but once they actually do it, that is a milestone in their life. Most of the time, they become lifelong hunters if it was a good experience.”
- Enjoyable recreation – Valentine said she and many other hunters see hunting as a form of enjoyable recreation bringing lasting memories and relief from everyday life. “I definitely think hunting is therapeutic,” she said. “I feel calmest when I’m in a tree stand.”
- It’s Instinctual – “Do you ever feel like there’s something inside of you that says ‘you need to go hunting?’” Valentine asked. “Or maybe about September, when the air starts turning and the leaves start crisping up, that you feel like, ‘I just can’t wait for deer season …’?” Brenda also pointed out a huge reason for the large turnout at the NWTF annual Convention and Sport Show is many people are “just dying” for turkey season to open up so they can turkey hunt.
- Protection – While it is not as important anymore, people used to hunt for protection. She explained people used to have to protect themselves and their homes from bears and other predatory animals. Today, she said, some people hunt predators to protect their favorite game animals’ young.
Valentine also noted any hunter can be a mentor, and mentoring is imperative to keeping the pursuit and tradition of hunting alive.
In closing, Valentine gave an insightful and moving allegory.
“Just imagine that somebody walked up to you and offered you a brand new home; the prettiest home you’ve ever seen,” Valentine said. “It was fully-furnished, had a refrigerator that was full of food and a pantry that was full of food … And it’s free. You could live there, you could raise your family there. The only stipulation is, you’ve got to take care of it … You’ve got to pay taxes on it, you’ve got to keep it up, and you can never deplete the pantry. If you take food out of it, you’ve got to put food back in there, but it’s yours as long as you take care of it … We have all been offered this deal. There are many of us that don’t realize it, but the outdoors is the most beautiful home that we could ever want, and that pantry stays full because we don’t eat everything out of it. We take from it, and we put back … All we have to do is take care of it and keep it fit to pass on to the next generation.”