Sunday, February 18, 2001
Hunting is far more than the taking of animals for food or trophy. Hunting is the hunt, the joy of hunting, the camaraderie and the outdoor experience. Most hunters hunt because they enjoy hunting, the challenge between them and the game. They hunt to enjoy the outdoors and the company of other fellow hunters. They enjoy the stories and the bonding that occurs in camp. Some of the strongest and most lasting friendships are made between hunters.
Anyone who thinks it's easy to harvest a big game animal hasn't truly hunted. When you challenge an animal in its own territory the odds are strongly in the animal's favor. National statistics show it takes the average hunter three to four years to harvest a deer and four to five years to harvest an elk. This shows that most hunters hunt for the hunt not the kill.
Some of my best hunts have been with good friends where I didn't harvest an animal and this past year is a perfect example. Several of my friends and I hunted together using my house as a base camp. Very early in the bow hunting season, Keith Washburn took a great bull. The animal had six points on the left side and a huge drop club antler on the right. Everyone in camp was very happy for Keith. He hadn't harvested an elk for several years and was very excited with such a great specimen.
Another friend's son was on his first big game hunt in the mountains of Colorado. Logan Wilkins is 11 years old and is becoming a good hunter. Logan's dad, Randy, didn't get any shots at an animal. But Logan did shoot a blue grouse with his bow. It was wonderful to see the excited big smile on Logan's face when he posed for his picture.
Rod Washburn is a hunting friend of many years. He has hunted more than 40 years in many states as well as Canada and Africa. Rod has never been able to take a bear. This year, while sitting in a tree stand not 50 yards from Rod, I watched him harvest his first after a beautiful brown bear boar walked by me and under Rod's stand.
I will remember these as my greatest hunts seeing old friends succeed in taking some great game animals and seeing a young hunter with an excited smile on his first big game hunt. I didn't harvest a big game animal but had some great experiences in the woods with friends and enjoyed the beauty of nature. I look forward to future hunts with these and other friends and always look forward to the quality time spent outdoors hunting.
Byron Dean is a teacher at Soroco High School in Oak Creek.