Hunting, it’s one of our favorite traditions. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a way of life. It teaches important life skills such as patience and hard work, it helps us gain a respect for wildlife and nature, and it allows us to be self sufficient and play a role in where our food comes from. Statistics have shown that as many as 18.25 million Americans head out into the field every year to enjoy hunting. Hunters also play a vital role in conservation efforts, donating millions of dollars each year to making sure that game species as well as habitats are preserved to ensure that future generations can enjoy hunting for years to come.
Many of us grew up learning to hunt from a family member or someone close to us. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around small game hunting with my Grandfather on our ranch in Southern Utah. It was on those hunts that he taught me the importance of respecting the animals that you hunt and that we, as hunters have to be responsible in our actions while hunting. I learned how to safely handle firearms, I learned how to clean and prepare game after the shot was made, and I also learned that hunting is so much more that just the kill. Those lessons stayed with me and hunting has evolved into one of my greatest passions.
So why would anyone want to hunt? I mean in today’s world we have a grocery store full of anything we could ever want, why would we need to harvest our own game? Well, I think that for many the reasons vary but for me, there are a few main reasons why I think people still enjoy hunting and all it has to offer:
- First, it connects us with our past. Man has hunted for eons, at times for both sustenance and for sport. It is part of who we are. Though today we generally do not hunt purely to sustain life (although there are many who still rely heavily on the game they take in the field to put food in the freezer for themselves and their families), or solely for the sport of it as at other points in history; taking your own game is an experience unlike any other and helps you gain an immense respect for where your food comes from.
- Second, hunting is a challenge. It’s a way for us to test our skills to see if we really have what it takes to harvest game. Tailing a big game animal through the mountains while trying to remain quiet or calling in a coyote from several miles away while trying to make sure he doesn’t catch wind of you and turn tail and run takes patience and skill. The challenge of the hunt helps you realize that conditions are never perfect and that you have to make due with the situation you are in. This makes hunting itself hugely appealing.
- Finally, I think that the third reason people today love to hunt is the comradery and friendship that it fosters. When I hunt, it is usually with friends or family members. Those times in the deer camp have been some of the best I’ve known. When I have had the opportunity to hunt with guides or outside of my home state, those that I have hunted with have soon become fast friends. Even when I learn that a stranger is a hunter it is immediately easier for me to get to know them. Hunting is often seen as a solitary activity, spending hours in a tree stand or a hunting blind alone, but the world of hunting is an immense community of mostly like minded individuals.
So with all the challenge that is already involved with rifle and bow hunting why would anyone want to even begin to throw airguns into the mix? Hunting airgun rifles are typically only capable of short ranges when compared with regular firearms, they are somewhat limited in power which narrows the allowable margin of human error and puts all the focus on shot placement, and they are often much more expensive to get into. Hunting regulations on airgunners in some states are also more restrictive, limiting what game you are able to take with an air rifle. In general, hunting with an airgun is much more challenging than with a traditional firearm, but it’s because of the added challenges that airgun hunting is so attractive. Hunting with an airgun really puts the results of the outcome squarely on the shoulders of the shooter.
In order to be effective with an air rifle you must know your gun, you have to put in the practice time to know its limitations and when you can safely and humanely take game. I have found that airgun hunting requires me to be more on top of my game, and because of that I have found that the experience is that much more rewarding. Airgunning breathes new life into small game hunting, what I used to see as simply eliminating pests is now just as thrilling as taking long range shots on trophy antelope, hunting cottontail rabbits in the late winter has regained the same luster it had when I was a kid, and taking predators on the run with a big bore airgun in the dead of night in a Georgia peanut field with IraqVeteran8888 & the Urban Airgunner is about the most exciting hunt I have experienced. Hunting with airguns is an experience that has changed the way that I think about hunting in general.
I think that airgun hunting in the United States has a bright future, the industry has embraced hunters more than ever, firearm related content creators are finally taking airguns seriously, and the cost of equipment and its availability have generally gotten better. Hunting with an air rifle is an experience all its own and until you’ve tried it, it’s hard to compare. The excitement and challenge are unparalleled. If you feel like you’re up to it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.