by Bill Miller
Hunting is humbling …
… or at least it should be. Sadly, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it by many of the current so-called celebrities who vie for the hunting spotlight today. These folks unabashedly make hunting “all about them!” It’s difficult not to perceive that they look at hunting as nothing more than a stepping stone to fame. If it weren’t hunting, for them, it would be something else.
Hunting for me is not about me.
Sure, I love to take a big-racked whitetail deer or a limit of greenheads as much as anyone else – maybe more – but it isn’t to show it off, to build myself up, or to brag. Besides procuring the healthiest, most sustainable kinds of meat from hunting, I gain profound, peace-giving appreciation for my insignificance in the grand scheme.
A few years back, I was fortunate to culminate a lifelong hunting dream of pursuing Dall’s Sheep in Alaska. I was successful in taking an ancient ram that would likely have not made it through another winter. It was a strenuous hunt. In fact, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, mentally, and spiritually in my life. We were taping a television show, and as I finally stood over the ram, I had no words. All I could say was, “… this is special … this is special.”
This hunt afforded me many opportunities to get off by myself deep in the Alaskan wilderness while waiting for the guides and other hunter during long stalks, during hikes to fetch water for spike camp, and taking quick splash baths in the glacial river. (The most important word there is “quick” as you’ll know if you’ve ever submersed yourself it ice water!
When you’re alone in big, wild country you come to realize you don’t mean much. You could be mauled by a bear, fall off a cliff, spontaneously combust, or be taken on board an alien space ship. No matter, the sun will rise and set, the river will flow, and the sheep and moose will eat grass on the mountain.
Such realizations bother some folks. For me, these experiences are simply the chance to set my mind right. It gives me peace. I don’t find magnitude of this kind of peace in anything but hunting. In looking back over a lifetime spent hunting, the experience of these humbling moments are the most vivid, most meaningful, and most peaceful of all.