Growing up my knowledge of the hunting industry was a local sporting goods store and the little old store where we checked in our game. Now the outdoor industry has exploded. There are countless companies, products and personalities most of which seem to push toward extremes. Then you feel compelled to feel similarly or hunt the same way.
The internet and outdoor channels are filled with shows and people that will tell you they are passionate about the outdoors. To me, that word is highly overused. I also think it’s often used in place of the word obsessed. Obsession isn’t usually a good thing although it’s easy to do when it comes to hunting. There have been points in my life where I’ve been obsessed with hunting and brushed it off as saying I was ‘passionate’ about it but it was negatively effecting my life. It’s easy to target that one animal or feel like you are missing your best shot at an animal and lose sight of what is truly important in life. The deer will be there next year. The big buck might not, but there will be another. Passion is great as long as you keep it in check. That said you don’t have to be passionate about the outdoors to enjoy it and carry on the tradition.
A hobby is most often defined as something you do often at your leisure, for pleasure. If hunting is a hobby for you, that is great. I think more people should think of hunting as a hobby because they get too caught up in it to enjoy it. I’m guilty of that sometimes myself. When people think of a hobby they tend to think of a guy building model planes that may show signs of overexposure to the toxic glue fumes, which is not the best stereotype. What I’m trying to say is don’t let the hype make you feel like hunting has to be something more than a leisure activity. If you enjoy hunting but don’t feel like doing all the latest trends of setting trail cameras, planting food plots and the like that is great! We need people like that to help grow hunting and continue it! To a non-hunter someone spending 12 months a year either hunting or preparing can seem overwhelming and be a huge turn off. If you don’t fit into the passionate or hobbyist category I think you’ll find you fit well in the next group.
Personally, hunting is a lifestyle for me. Hunting is a huge part of my life but it’s not taking over my life it’s a balanced part of who I am and how I spend my time, (though my wife’s opinion may differ). I set trail cameras and do more than the hobbyist but I’m not afraid of missing quite a few days of hunting to spend time with family and take care of things around the house. I also use hunting as motivation to stay in shape and as an escape from everyday life. It may sound far fetched but I use hunting a way to help keep my life in balance. I spend quite a bit of time working and with the family so prepping for hunting season or checking trail cameras is a time to get out for a hike and take it all in without necessarily obsessing over it.
Where I’m going with this is none of the states above are necessarily wrong but take the time to think about what hunting is and means to you. You don’t have to obsess about hunting day in and day out to be a hunter and help the sport. Also be sure that hunting isn’t taking over your life and effecting those around you negatively. Make sure that hunting is helping bring balance to your life no overtaking it.