I finally made it home late last night from my Alberta black bear hunt, where I took my 50th and 51st black bears on a very high-quality hunt. Friends and colleagues have both asked me, “Why have you shot so many?”
That’s a question I thought about a lot as I was sitting for hours on end in a tree stand, swatting mosquitoes and enjoying the kind of solitude that can only be found in such a remote wilderness.
As I thought about it, my mind turned to the question of, “Why do I hunt at all?” Many times I have tried to find the right words to describe to those who do not hunt the excitement that makes a man’s blood sing through his veins, that heightens his senses and allows him to become engulfed in an emotion as old and primal as the urge to mate. Explaining the lust of the hunter to someone born without it is like trying to explain color to a blind man, the beauty of the opera to one born without hearing, the sweet smell of spring to one birthed with no sense of smell.
How do you explain that as long as man has been alive he has had an inborn emotion to hunt, not just for sustenance and clothing and the other essentials that can be made from hide and sinew and bone, but for some primal need to possess the noblest, most powerful, and most magnificent of God’s wild creatures? That without this inborn instinct man, like the world’s other carnivores, would have perished long ago?
For ancient man, there were no “participation ribbons.” Then the game was simple – kill animals, eat them and make clothing and tools from them, or die.
Black bears have always fascinated me. They are big and powerful, with tremendous senses of smell and hearing, an animal to be greatly respected. Their fur is luxurious, their meat pretty darn tasty, their fang and claw awe-inspiring. The country they live in is some of the world’s most rugged and beautiful. Every time I am around them I am mesmerized, and learn something new about them.
So, the question is really not, “Why have you shot so many?” but really a question for those who do not hunt bears — “Why do you not hunt them?” After all, I am a hunter, and black bears are a most worthy challenge. I can’t wait to go again.