Why We Hunt: The Mental and Physical Benefits
Hunting is ancient. It has been carried out since modern humans have walked the Earth and hopefully will continue for future generations.
We live in an era where the ethics and the purposes of hunting are routinely called into question. As hunters, it is difficult for us to understand where the concern comes from because we see and live the benefits it produces. We also know hunters are often the most concerned with the health and monitoring of animal populations and the environments they are found.
There is a chance that some of you are reading this article and contemplating taking up hunting and wondering if the benefits are worth dedicating your time and money is worth it.
Perhaps you are looking for reasons so that you can convince friends or family to join you on the hunt.
We could write hundreds of articles on the benefits, but for this particular piece, we will focus on the mental and physical benefits of hunting and leave the benefits it provides the animals and environment for another time.
Some of the benefits might seem obvious to you, but I hope to bring to light other reasons you might not be aware of. We hope that you will find our ideas support the notion that hunting is beneficial to the human mind and body.
The body fuels the mind
While we will get to the physical benefits shortly, we can't help but bring it up immediately. There have been multiple studies that have shown outdoor activity greatly reduces tension and cognitive fatigue, depression, and anxiety! The exercise gained during hunting leads to a sharper and healthier mind.
Hunting anchors us
I think above anything else that hunting does for the psyche is that it serves as an anchor. What I mean by this is being on the land, learning its terrain, and harvesting from it all serve to, whether consciously or unconsciously, bring us closer to the world around us.
It connects us to the land and makes us more in tuned to its future. This, in turn, makes us feel more responsible for forces that affect the land and we are more likely to care and take action against laws or human actions that will harm it.
Hunting forms bonds
Not only can hunting anchor us to the land, but I believe it also builds stronger connections with the people around us. Hunting tends to be a tradition that is passed from generation to generation. I cannot bring back fonder memories than those spent learning the art from my father, grandfather, and uncles. Thousands of years ago humans hunted in packs to provide food for each other, and I think continuing that tradition, at a smaller scale builds bonds between family and friends that can't be forged under any other conditions.
Hunting improves critical thinking
Hunting will sharpen your critical thinking skills. Think about it what all goes into hunting preparation. Can you scout and spot animal signs such as bedding areas and travel lanes? Can you take these signs along with hunting pressure, weather, animal behavior for the season and create a strategy that is going to put you in a spot to harvest an animal? That's a higher level of thinking and is a skill that greatly benefits you in your day to day life.
Hunting improves quick decision making
Not only critical thinking skills are sharpened but making quick decisions as well. Those few minutes where adrenaline is pumping are filled with decisions that must be made immediately. Do you take the shot now? Is there a better opportunity? Do I need to relocate? All are split second and putting your mind through these situations trains it to make quick and clear decisions outside of the woods.
Hunting improves performance under duress
As far as mental benefits go, I think being able to control yourself and perform while under a naturally induced adrenaline high is an incredible skill to have.
Hopefully, you have all felt the phenomenon known as "buck fever" as there are few experiences like it. I would venture to guess that buck fever has led to more missed shots than anything else. Learning how to slow your breathing, assess the situation, and perform under these conditions goes well beyond the woods. If you can perform during buck fever, you can bet you will perform better under duress in other situations.
Hunting provides solitude and diversion
I believe hunting can also provide a needed reprieve from the outside world. We live with a lot of distractions and stresses, and I believe hunting now, more so than with our ancestors, provides a needed outlet and chance for solitude.
This solitude and diversion are healthy for our high octane, information overload lives. And no, just sitting in the outdoors is not the same as hunting. Hunting is active and actively takes your attention away from outside issues and places them squarely on the terrain and animals around you. A few hours hunting and you leave with clear and level head, and hopefully some meat.
Hunting works all muscles
What is awesome about hunting is the range of muscles that are worked. A day in the bush might entail hauling 40lbs of gear, climbing, and hauling an animal out of tough terrain. You might find yourself holding you 8lb gun above your wading through thick scrub.
Hunting works every single muscle that you can think of and is especially useful on core muscles that are usually neglected in the gym. Maybe the best part is you don't even really notice the workout you are getting especially if the hunting is hot.
Hunting encourages more physical activities
Hunting usually encompasses more than just the actual hunts. Setting up blinds, scouting, and land management all support and generate a lot of physical activity that builds lean muscle and keeps you moving.
Granted, there are some hunts where you will be stationary for the majority of the time, but they are balanced by hunting situations where will be covering miles of difficult terrain.
And let’s be honest, being out and preparing for the hunt is much more fun than sitting around the house.
Hunting provides lean meat
Game meat is lean. It is lean and full of protein including deer, sheep, pheasant, and rabbit, just to name a few. I hope that you harvest meat from your kills or at least distribute it to other people if you have no need of it. I believe that you leave behind the biggest experience of hunting if you do not consume the animal you killed.
Granted, it’s tough to beat beef, but in the long run, game meat is going to be healthier. When prepared properly, I think game meat can rival beef bite for bite, and this is coming from a family that raised cattle.
Hunting improves heart health
Lean meat and cardio all result in healthier hearts. In industrialized countries, heart disease is the highest reason for mortality. Hunting provides an outlet and to become more active, healthier, and happier.
Honestly, I cannot think of any other experience that brings all of these mental and physical benefits in one package. Hunting was a method of survival for our ancestors. And while most of us reading this article do, not hunting still relays numerous physical and mental advantages.
In the end, most people focus on hunting as a success or fail endeavor. You either harvested an animal, or you were defeated. You always hope for success, but with all the added benefits, it makes me wonder if there is such a thing as unsuccessful hunts.