One of my friends climbed Mount Kilimanjaro this past month.
At the top of the mountain he took a picture of him next to the sign announcing his accomplishment. After coming down off the mountain and was able to find an internet connection, the first thing he did was post that picture. It is a simple picture of my friend standing on some rocks next to a sign.
That picture represents his whole journey, even though we only see him at his goal. It does not show the months of training to build up the endurance to make the climb. It does not show the hours it took to plan the trip. And it does not show the journey up the mountain or the journey back down. But every time he looks at it he sees those things, he sees the training, the planning and the journey. To him they are all present in the picture, which represents the culmination of hard work and planning which led to a great achievement.
Most of our hunting pictures are the same way. They show us smiling over our dead deer, elk or moose. They don’t show the hours of shooting, the time we spent scouting, the long hours in the tree stand or even the work it takes to break a carcass down into meat. None of that is in the picture. But as hunters, we see it. And just like my friend’s picture, to us it represents the culmination of hard work and planning.
I think the problem with some of our hunting pictures is that the non-hunter only sees the picture, not what it represents. On the surface, they see us smiling over the death. From that they assume to know our motivations, saying we have a bloodlust and do it for the thrill of the kill. They wonder how anyone can take the life of such a beautiful creature.
Hunters know this is so far from the truth. Our motivations are not one of bloodlust or killing for fun, but one of adventure, time in nature, and self-sufficiency, to name a few. It is not always about the kill. It is about the journey that leads up to it and the fulfillment of providing yourself with food afterwards. Do not get me wrong, the kill is the goal, but it is not the complete picture.
Hunting in general is not an easy endeavor. It takes time, patience, and knowledge with many skills that take years to hone. Just learning to shoot a bow and becoming proficient enough to make an accurate shoot take months of diligent practice. Over the course of a season, a hunter will more often be unsuccessful than successful. So when the kill is finally achieved, it is celebrated, just like someone’s picture celebrating any other achievement.
This is something that non-hunters do not see when they look at a picture of me smiling behind a dead deer. It is something that is very hard to explain and understand unless you have experienced it. But I want them to know the full story. Hunters should try their best to show the full story, not only post pictures of the deer, but of the entire journey, featuring the time in nature and the meat.
Next time you see the picture of a hunter standing above a carcass, realize that the picture is not the whole story. It is only a snap shot of a very personal journey, and there is more than meets the eye.