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Hunting Helps Boys Become Men - by Ligia Brubaker

Little Max, 6 years old - First Hunting Adventure

Hunting was necessary for early men. The quarry was a source of food, clothing and material for tools. Over the years, hunting kept its value as a source of dietary needs and it has been enriched with a competition aspect and became a legacy passed on from one generation to another.

Through hunting, we rediscover the ancestral hunting-gathering lifestyle of humanity and what we pass on from this legacy will guide our children in finding the value of ancient, tested paths in life.

The number of licensed hunters in America has drastically declined over the years, and with it, we have abandoned hunting as a masculine rite of passage. I would submit to you, that is a legacy that needs to be rediscovered. Especially in cities, our young men are now merely boys who can shave, who replaced the grand idea of masculinity with a form of “he-woman”. There is a need to honor the stages of male development through hunting in order to restore genuine masculinity.

The rite of passage

As opposed to growing misconceptions, hunting does not encourage violence. On the contrary, hunting teaches empathy and compassion and instills high-quality intelligence in boys. According to Michael Gurian, a family therapist and bestselling author of several books, “the world would be more peaceful if more men hunted”. In fact, some exemplary people such as Teddy Roosevelt, the greatest conservationist in the history of the world, and Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner were avid hunters.

By the utilization of role models and mentoring through hunting, young men learn universal virtues such as courage, fortitude, patience, generosity, compassion, and humility. As a young hunter, a boy needs to have a role model that will facilitate his bonding to nature and the society as a protector and a provider. Hunting propels a young man to pursue an animal, but he is surprised when he takes the animal’s life and his heart is opened. Young men need to learn about death. They need to learn what death is; that it is eternal and it cannot be undone. That it is necessary. This is how men fall in love with nature and why they are at the forefront of conservation. This is how men fall in love with life. For years, hunting has been considered to be a creative activity that is quite similar to battle, sport, and sex. It has helped men develop manly attributes such as discipline, strength, mastery of tools, determination and initiative. According to Award-winning author, Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D.:

“If sex is the bicep of love, hunting is the bicep of conservation.”

To become responsible adults, boys need rites of passage; and hunting was among the original rites of passage and it continues to nature genuine masculinity in men today. It once proved that a boy could provide and protect; which therefore qualified him for manhood and marriage. Without a rite of passage that opens a man’s heart and connects him to nature and the society, a man may become egotistical, materialistic and self-centered. Untempered masculinity and lack of self-discipline lead to responsibility abandonment – which is one of the main things our society is fighting with today. Both men and women need rites of passage – and hunting with other men is definitely a great rite of passage for young boys.

Lifelong Bonds

Hunting involves long hikes which are often through rugged terrain, hours behind binoculars, constantly trying to beat an animal’s keen senses, camouflaging so as to get into shooting range undetected, countless hours of practice, and making a good, ethical shot to clean out game quickly. After all this, the hunter has to carry their kill out of the woods, but not before dressing it, quartering it, and carrying it (maybe for miles) to their truck. It is a lot easier when done in group and, depending on the size of the kill, sometimes it is impossible to do it alone. Time spent afield with family or friends create a bond of trust and respect.

Hunting is not easy, and a few days of hunting are like a crash course on grit and determination. Through hunting, boys grow immensely as human beings and you stronger physically, emotionally, and mentally. As they become better hunters, they also become patient in fatherhood (because they learn patience), diligent administrators of resources (as they need to diligently manage their limited resources), attentive protectors, better friends, and learn to appreciate the relationships they have with family and friends.

Fine Sporting Firearms

Hunting with respect to the written and unwritten rules is important. An ethical hunter, therefore, adheres to the ethics of a fair chase, clean kill, never takes more than what he needs, and honors the animal that gives its life for his sustenance by not letting its meat go to waste. The concept of just how valuable life is hard to explain in words. It is only after participating in a hunt that a young boy can understand hunting ethics and depart from the very damaging idea of circumstantial morality. Morality does not depend on the circumstance, but it is a way of living which needs to be passed on to the younger generations. How? By hunting with them. By planting a garden with them. By raising an animal for the slaughter.

Early in a hunter’s life, a boy learns that if there is such a thing as “sin” in hunting, it is wounding an animal without killing it. Although accidents happen, avoiding them is one of the main reasons why hunters give their all to becoming competent with firearms or bows. Boys need to learn that unfinished jobs cause pain and damage. Hunters are morally and legally responsible when they carry a firearm.

Tools used in hunting are also important. Fine hunting firearms, which are looked after with care and maintained in a good functioning state, are tools that reflect the respect the hunter has for the pray.

Using a fine sporting, quality firearm not only gives a clean, ethical shot; but it ensures the kill is a kill, not just wounding. I have recently picked up a sweet rare French firearm. Lucky me, I am married to a gunsmith and he can address all the issues that this little guy has – there are quite a few. One of the main concerns is the length of the stock. At 5’2’’, my arms are not long. I am looking forward to have a stock designed and cut for me – that way, when I lift the firearm my sight will be on-spot. (Yes, lady hunters, there are solutions for us!) This will also ensure that there are no stray bullets and that I only kill what I aim at.

Hunting has been a pastime that has shaped America and many of the state’s public lands. Hunters, please, pass on the tradition to the younger generation! This transformative experience shows respect to wildlife and cultivates respect to human beings. By ensuring that young hunters are thought how to respect animals we also ensure that our rights as firearm owners are consolidated. Young boys grow to be men in a house where the father keeps the barrels clean and the freezer full.

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