Hunting for the Health of It: Spiritual

I hope everyone had a rewarding opening weekend of the gun deer season. I was fortunate to shoot a doe Saturday morning before heading to work at the registration station (first deer I’ve shot on opening weekend since getting hired by the DNR 20+ years ago!). When I first placed my hand on her, I said out loud “I’m sorry”. Then I thought to myself, “that was a strange thing to say”. I wasn’t sorry that I had shot her. But it seemed appropriate to acknowledge to her that I was sorry I had ended her life. As I field dressed her, the heat from her body on my hands reminded me that her life was transferring to mine and I thought about how she would feed my family over the next year. I felt connected to her and to the patch of land that had raised her. It was a spiritual moment for me.

Spirituality means different things to different people. Spiritual wellness is associated with a sense of connection. Deer hunting provides many avenues to contemplate and explore spirituality. For some, it’s the simple joy of watching the sun rise. It may be the feel and smell of the autumn earth as it reclaims the past year’s plant growth to be expressed again as new life next spring. And if venison should grace the family table, the chance to share and give thanks takes on a greater significance because the meal was provided by your own hand and you recall the moment in the field when you felt that contradiction of both sorrow and gratitude.

It has been my pleasure and privilege to share with you the virtues of the hunt as I have come to value them during my years in the field. Thank you for taking the time to consider how hunting enhances our quality of life, and perhaps sharing these messages throughout your own online network of family and friends. There will always be good years and not so good years in the deer woods, but when you are hunting for the health of it, you can’t lose. I wish you a rewarding remainder of the 2012 season and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Live Wild, Live Well
Jeff Pritzl

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