Freemen

We’ve all seen it—a group of hunters sitting around a table for a meal or afterward around a fire back at camp or maybe after opening morning in a local café, gathered at a deer check station or at the taxidermist. Mood is jovial and expectations high. The expressions, the jokes and poking fun; the laughter; the talk about the high hopes for tomorrow, the ones that got away, or the deeds of the day fill the air.

These are just some of the sights and sounds of hunting season, but how often do we step back and put these scenes into perspective? How often do we think to ourselves, “These are all freemen”?

There is nothing more personal than freedom, and everyone understands what freedom means, or should. One of the greatest benefits compelling us as hunters is exercising our freedom to hunt, which is not a freedom for everyone in many countries. Just as game species may be the truest indicators of quality natural environments, hunting is an indicator of quality natural freedoms. In a very real sense, public hunting is a very American way of viewing natural resources like wildlife.

As hunters, we are probably as free as it’s possible to be in this fast-paced, instant information overload, techno-society of ours. Free, not because we abandon civilized codes and restraints when we go afield, but because we can transport out of and beyond the commonplace, and insert ourselves into a quieter, deeper, wilder and older world from whence we came.

Our freedom has arched the trajectory of human existence across all time. It was freedom from oppression and servitude that loaded the ships destined for the New World and a new life. It was freedom that endured the hardships of carving a new nation out of the wilderness. It was the belief that all men are created equal and should be free that eliminated slavery. It is freedom that sends our troops into combat. Freedom is not only an American ideal but a human one.

Next time someone asks you why you hunt tell them, “Hunting exercises, expands, and enhances my freedom.”

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