This last weekend I was asked to explain why I believe every survivalist take up hunting. Of course, the short answer is so you won't ever starve, but there's a little more to it than that.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the outdoors and taking care of the natural world', but I'm also a big fan of hunting. It's a tradition my grandfather passed down to my dad, one he passed to me. Hopefully I'll get to share it one day with my kids.
Because I understand we no longer live in the old pioneer days, but I also worry.
Our generation has become too accustomed to convenience. Supermarkets stocked full of processed foods and ready-to-eat meals, and despite the growing "organic" trend, I believe we've lost touch with our roots. Many people have never had to catch and eat their own food, and they have almost no idea what goes into a successful hunt. If you want to have any hope at surviving a crisis, you need to learn to hunt. Here's why.
Hunting gives you skills with your firearm
There's no question that knowing your way around a gun is a good survival trait. Practice is a skill you'll hear me harp on about again and again, but it's vital. Getting comfortable with shooting, learning to control the weapon, and mastering the aim and the perfect shot are vital to a good hunt.
But this also translates to self-defense. If you've ever in a position where you need to protect yourself, being comfortable with your firearm, knowing how to load and fire it efficiently, and being able to make a decent shot will go a long way to keeping yourself, and your family safe.
Take the time to learn how to shoot. Even if it involves a little time spent on the range with your practice targets. Over time, you'll improve, and will get more proficient in your accuracy, your ability to focus, and of course, how to make the split-second decision and pull the trigger.
Hunting boosts your situational awareness
One of the most valuable skills you need to master for survival is the art of staying aware. Knowing what's going on around you at all times, feeling the "pulse" of a particular environment, and being ready to act when an opportunity comes.
To be successful in your hunts, you need to attune yourself with the woods around you. Learning the different patterns, sounds and behaviors of your prey, while also training yourself to adapt to the almost guaranteed unpredictability of the outdoors. Everything from the weather to the conditions, the animals around, and the time of year will challenge your abilities to think outside of the box, and keep your boots dry.
You'll develop the ability to remain still and patient, while learning to trust your gut about a particular sign. These instincts translate well to survival, as it sharpens your ability to watch and observe, and react appropriately to whatever situation presents. You'll learn how to take care in your actions, and it'll get easier to notice when something just feels wrong. A feeling deep in your gut that may just save your life.
Hunting develops your strength of character
In a crisis, it's not only about being the strongest or fittest. You need the strength of character to keep yourself sane, when everything around you turns to chaos.
What I've learnt most from my time in the woods is discipline. Successful hunts are those where you've taken the time to prepare, scouting locations, cleaning your gear, and planning your strategy instead of simply wandering off into the woods. It's time consuming, but any successful hunter will tell you that it's discipline which leads to their success.
Of course, not every hunt will be a good one, and you're sure to experience your fair share of disappointments. A missed shot. A wasted day. The important part is deciding how you'll deal with these. Over time, I've discovered you simply need to let it go. You won't always do everything perfectly, the key is to learn and improve, and perhaps next time you'll be ready.
When the SHTF, it's going to take everything you've got to stop yourself giving in to the despair and stressors which now exist in every simple task. The discipline and ability to learn from your mistakes you've developed will be fundamental to staying sane during those trying times.
Hunting gets you off the couch and into the woods
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is one simple fact. Getting geared up and going hunting gets you off the couch and into the great outdoors. But not only during hunting season.
I'll be out building hides or scouting new patches of trees, walking for miles looking for the perfect areas to hunt. I've lost count of the hours I've spent tracking animals, reading signs and suffering everything mother nature has thrown at me, but it's also wonderfully positive.
You see, I'm that much more self-reliant now. I know where to find water in my local environment. I've learnt, studied and actually tried to eat most of the edible plants I'm planning to survive on. I'm confident that if I throw together a quick lean-to, it's not going to collapse on me as soon as the wind changes direction. There's much to be said about the benefits of learning first-hand the skills you need to survive in the woods, and hunting gets you out there and doing just that.
If you've been looking for a new hobby to support your survivalist goals, you need to start hunting. The skills you develop will improve your ability to survive ten-fold, and you'll get much more confident in yourself. The best possible outcome in preparation for a SHTF event.