Hunting for the Health of It: Career

Jeff recognizing fellow sportsmen for their commitment to wildlife stewardship

I shot my first deer when I was 15, in what is now the Porcupine Lake Wilderness Area of the Chequamegon National Forest in Bayfield County. In my inexperience, I made a poor shot on the 6 pointer, and when I caught up with him, he was still alive. I found myself face to face with my quarry, and at that moment he became more than just a target to me. I knew what I had to do. I ended the deer’s suffering, fell to my knees and as I mentioned yesterday, cried. In the 10 minutes I knelt there, waiting for my Grandpa to find me, something happened while I looked at that deer. Hunting ceased being mere sport or recreation to me. I made a commitment to that buck that I would give back more than I took. For me it turned into a profession. But for many more, the call to be a steward of our wildlife resources blooms through conservation organizations dedicated to preserving and enhancing our natural world for future generations.

The original Hettler Wellness Model used the word Occupational as a component of wellness. I guess he needed a vowel more than a consonant for the original 6 letter acronym SOSPIE. Whether it’s Career or Occupational, this component of health extends beyond the literal definition of a job. It includes any avocation that requires a commitment to develop special skills to be proficient. That means many more than just the couple hundred wildlife management staff, conservation wardens, outdoor writers and outfitters; or the people working in the equivalent of 14,000 jobs created by the hunting economy in Wisconsin, get to consider deer hunting as part of their career. Having a passion for an activity like hunting keeps us grounded and fulfilled in a way that enhances our performance, regardless of our actual profession. Aldo Leopold wrote “I knew a bank president who adventured in roses. Roses made him a happy man and a better bank president.” He also offered that “Certainly many of our most satisfying avocations today consist of making something by hand which machines can usually make more quickly and cheaply, and sometimes better.” So in as much as the basic purpose of generating a paycheck is to acquire the services of others to provide certain basic needs such as food or shelter, it is much more fulfilling to assume full responsibility for obtaining these needs with our own talents and hands. Hunting is not the only way to achieve this level of satisfaction and self-reliance, but it is my preferred way.

Tomorrow I’ll give you something to think about.

Live Wild, Live Well…and good luck on Opening Day tomorrow!
Jeff Pritzl

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