In my younger, salad days I think I could have been (in fact I often was) described as ‘reactionary’ or ‘combative’. Maybe even ‘passionate’ or ‘reckless’ or ‘wild’. And in some ways I guess that I still have my moments in that idiom. But a minor miracle of metamorphosis (alliteration, anyone?) is happening.
I’m settling down…or more accurately, I’m changing and I’m refocusing.
There was a time when I was cynical, angry, defensive, self-righteous, and downright ornery when it came to talking about hunting. That others disapproved of hunting, or threatened the long term viability of the tradition politically or socially, or eroded the high ethical standards that we should all aspire to as hunters, or even did things in a different way than I did them made me upset and all ranty. For some reason I took the differences of opinion that others had as a personal slight, or a judgment of my personal worth. Maybe it was the pride and idealism of youth but I spent the better part of my teen years and basically all of my twenties living as a judgmental, loudmouthed a-hole. It was a habit that became and consumed my identity. Better psychological analysts than I could probably tell you why I was that way, but I attribute it basically to some futile attempt to define myself as an individual within a set of traditions, actions, beliefs, and philosophies…or something like that.
Then something started happening. Those feelings began to go away. It was a three step process really.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that this first step occurred right around the time my son was born. It is hard to have time to be a cynical jerk when a new life demands your undivided attention. Even harder when that new life is just so dang awesome, what with their knack for seeing the world simplistically through eyes that are almost constantly happy and innocent. Simply put, being a happy Dad makes for a happy kid. Also being an angry victim all the time is draining…and I needed to focus my energy on other things…notably making sure my son was safe, warm, and healthy. Sure, I still get mad at political, social, and environmental actions that are jeopardizing the future (hunting or otherwise) for my son and by extension the futures of other people’s sons and daughters, but simply complaining about it does not a problem fix.
Secondly, and perhaps this is where I saw real progress, was that I came upon an epiphany. Being an angry, opinionated person that spouted off my own beliefs and agenda related to hunting to anyone that cared to tune in really made me no better than those who use similar tactics to attempt to disabuse the hunting community of our outdoor privileges and traditions. Also, feeling like a martyr all the time really sucks…I realized that it just wasn’t doing anything positive for me. It may be a positive life choice for some people, but not this cat. I have bigger, tastier fish to fry.
And finally, I realized that positive outlets (as I hope this forum will be) can have a much more positive impact on the direction of debate. In a recent post I made reference to hate mail, and I’ll delve much deeper into that later on in related posts, but for now I’ll just say to those of you who follow Get Out & Go Hunting and that are still vociferous and impassioned drum-beaters for the hunting community, I urge you not to stop if you don’t want to…but at the same time, please do stop telling me (as one emailing fan of this site did) that I’m a “sell-out” or that I’ve “gone soft” or worst of all that I “don’t really give a damn about the future of hunting”…because I do. I just don’t use militant tactics or rhetoric.
It requires no justification on my part (so I won’t bother with a rambling justification) because I’m comfortable with where I am with this site, and I think that aside from being semi-entertaining and pseudo-informative, this blog has the opportunity to share my genuine love and passion for hunting (a passion and pride that is the common thread I share with millions of hunters in North America and around the world, regardless of how we choose to express it) in a positive way with stories and thoughts that represent (for me) the core of why hunting is great and why I hope to be able to pass this tradition down to my son and the next generation at large. There’s still passion and commitment (especially when it comes to stamping out illegal or negatively representative actions), it is just that now I don’t lament and shout about it all the time.
Ten years ago I wanted to be the voice of hunters everywhere. Thanks to the mellowing factors of experience, perspective, and yes plain old growing up, I now only desire to be one of the voices of hunting.
You have your own voices too, so don’t be afraid to use them…just don’t make the mistakes of my earlier days and spread your message in ways that might actually be detrimental to the hunting traditions we all value so much.
That’s experience talking.