The Value of Hunting as a Life Experience

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    The Value of Hunting as a Life Experience
    by James E. Miller, Ph.D., Past President of The Wildlife Society, Professor Emeritus at MSU

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    I have long been convinced that the thrill of the chase and responsible stewardship of wildlife resources are two of the fundamental passions of mankind. I contend that hunting blood courses in all our veins, and that those of us who do not suppress our inborn instinct for the chase and the desire to be responsible stewards derive great pleasure and satisfaction from the pursuit of these efforts, which are basic instincts…hunting is about an enriching experience, not just the occasional harvest of a game animal....

    Aside from feeling genetically and instinctively predisposed to hunt, I treasure and enjoy everything about it: the planning and preparation, the sights and smells, the privilege of observing animal behavior, the scouting, the challenges and thrills of the chase, the skillful cleaning of harvested game, the final organic feast. Hunting enables me to use and improve skills learned over a lifetime. It demands physical fitness, personal discipline, and a code of ethics. It recharges my personal batteries, improves my perspective about life, and results not only in rich experience but in priceless memories of great times afield with family, friends, and colleagues....

    I believe that wildlife management continues to rely on the vision of people whose lives have been positively inspired and transformed by hunting. Fair-chase hunting teaches vital life lessons including the connectivity and interdependence of life; dependence on the biological integrity, viability, and extent of natural systems; awareness of our environment; the importance of stewardship; skills of observation, patience, and responsibility to ourselves and to the animals we seek; self-sufficiency and self-confidence; natural history; responsibility for the safe use of lethal harvest equipment; humility and gratitude; social cooperation with colleagues, land-owners, managers, and local communities; survival skills; and reverence for life itself.

    To my mind, hunters are heroes. They were the first to initiate efforts to stop the destruction of habitats from development and the sale of wildlife and the first to call for legislation to restore wildlife habitat and populations. They continue to support and defend scientific wildlife management. Fair-chase hunters are passionate about wild things and wild places, recognizing that wild creatures are worthy of our respect and admiration. Such hunters understand the need for enabling and supporting scientific wildlife management and sustainability.
     

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