Hunt Your Hunt

Backpackers have a saying: "Hike your own hike." Michigan Out-of-Doors editor Drew YoungeDyke explains why a similar mantra is needed for hunting.

This editorial appears in the back page column "The Wild Side" in the Fall 2016 issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors. Subscribe by becoming a member of Michigan United Conservation Clubs!

I probably don't hunt the same way that you do. I probably prepare for hunting differently, and I probably think about hunting differently. Not because I'm all that different, but because hunting is an intensely personal endeavor, humans have evolved complex brains, and each of us thinks differently about pretty much everything.

Hunters are no different.

Each one of us has different expectations and experiences that we wish to get out of hunting. Few of us have only one reason, and the recipe that makes up our motivations for how we hunt the way we do and why is more complex than can ever be summed up in an anti-hunter's comment on a Facebook post. We've grown used to those comments, but the most damaging vitriol is what occurs between hunters.

My preferred way to hunt is to load up a few days of gear in a backpack, hike into northern Michigan public land state forest hills, and still-hunt for whitetails with a bow. Why? I have a hard time explaining it. It merged my love of backpacking with hunting, and there's something about the act of stalking through the woods with an arrow knocked and all senses alert that engages some primal instinct within me that no other form of hunting yet has. That's the reason for my "how."

My "why," is to supply a year's worth of venison for my paleo-ish eating habits. For that reason, I'll as happily take a doe as a buck, and I'll take a buck with three points on a side because, if I can help it, I want the younger ones to grow a little bigger, but I'm not worried about a "trophy" other than having enough meat on the hoof to last me as long into the year as possible so I don't have to buy meat for my lunches. And to get the most out of the days I have available each year to hunt, I train like crazy the rest of the year to get in as good of shape as I can and to improve as a bowhunter. After four years of making mistakes while trying to still-hunt whitetails with a bow, last year I finally brought it together on the opener and feasted on a button buck (mistook for a doe) for a month, then added an 8-point 3.5-year old buck with my rifle on that opener which fed me through May. I don't want to regress.

But that way is not for everyone; it's probably not for most. And it's not any better or worse than any other hunting methods. So I don't begrudge anyone hunting from a treestand over a food plot; that hunter probably worked really hard to plant it and spent a lot time figuring out where to place it. I don't begrudge hunters hunting close to the road; frankly, that leaves more backcountry for me to wander. I don't begrudge hunters hunting from a heated blind, or holding out for bigger deer, or taking smaller ones where it's legal, as long as they don't complain later about never seeing big ones.

Backpackers have a saying, "Hike your own hike." We need to adopt that as hunters. Hunt your hunt. I'll hunt mine. That doesn't mean we excuse unethical or illegal behavior, but simply recognize that there's more than one way to skin a buck.

Hunt Your Hunt.

DKY

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  • commented 2016-08-26 08:47:40 -0400
    I couldn’t agree with you more Drew. The problem is many MI hunters, including me, are prevented from “hunting their hunt” due current widespread antler point restrictions. One of my main motivations for deer hunting, like you, is to secure venison for the table. For the first time in many years, I was not able to secure a supply of venison because I couldn’t “hunt my hunt.” I saw multiple yearling bucks that I could have shot, and I would have taken one of them, if I would have been able to “hunt my hunt” like I could prior to 2008 before antler restrictions were adopted by both tags on combo deer licenses. I would have been content to take a doe with bow and arrow like I could previously, but current regulations even prevented me from doing that. It is time to go back to regulations that allow all MI hunters to “hunt their hunt,” not just those looking for bigger antlers!!!!