By Christina VanGinkel
Hobbies come in all shapes and forms, from the quiet of reading the newest bestseller, to racing down a hill with two sticks on their feet, otherwise known as skiing, from collecting butterflies, to riding motocross. My point being that it takes all kinds of different hobbies to satisfy all the different people that make up the average community. One hobby in particular that might not be popular with everyone, but has a huge following of those that do participate is hunting for game (When referring to game, I am referring to an animal, taken for the main prospect of both eating and using the hide). Men and women across the Untied States and other countries, hunt for deer, elk, moose, black bear, grouse, squirrel, and many other species. They do so for many different reasons, from helping keep the overpopulation of many of these animals in control, which in turn cuts down on the spread of disease and accidents such as vehicle, animal crashes, to filling their own refrigerators and freezers to help offset the ever-rising costs of groceries.
The men and women in our family hunt whitetail deer each year, during the designated days of the month of November. Depending on which mid-western state you live in, the actual dates of the whitetail deer hunting season may vary, but most last in length, from nine to fourteen days on average. Living in the Midwest where we do, this (deer hunting) is as common a fall practice for most families as heading back to school. When the first leaves of fall start to change color, the ads for hunting supplies and gear to make your stay at camp or in the blind more pleasant, start popping up on the radio, and in the local newspapers. Even the bigger stores get in on the action, advertising all sorts of wares to make deer hunting season special in one way or another, and orange clothing and accessories are abundant no matter where you turn.
For those people that might not actually participate in the hunt, but have a spouse or other family members that do, places such as travel agencies and local hotels, will even offer special getaways and discount packages for the dates corresponding with the actual season. The term 'hunter's widow' was even created to express how some women feel who do not participate in the sport, though more women it seems are, both for the camaraderie that so many feel is a big part of the hunt, and also for the added tags allowing the taking of more game, which in the end means more food in the freezer.
Some people also hunt other species of animal throughout the year, depending on what seasons the DNR might have open. Along with hunting, fishing is a close second as to sport of choice. Both offer the added benefit of a chance to bring home the bacon, literally, ok, not the bacon, but the venison, trout, etc. Fishing also seems to appeal to some of those people who may not disapprove of hunting, but for personal reasons, just cannot bring themselves to. Maybe a physical limitation that prevents them from the physical rigors sometimes associated with hunting, may keep them out of the woods, but they are not so limited that they cannot set up a chair along a riverbank or even get into a boat or canoe to participate.
While these hobbies may not be for everyone, there are so many people that do participate in them, that government agencies even teach classes to the younger kids to help them prepare for the time that they will be legally allowed to participate. If you are an adult, who never had these safety classes as a youth, some states may offer a separate class, but just as many will gladly include you in the classes mainly intended for the youths. Safety is safety after all, and the same lessons and rules are being taught no matter your age.
If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating hobbies, ask a friend or family member that already hunts, or visit a DNR (Department of natural Resources) location to obtain information on the legalities involved, safety concerns, and information on what county and state lands may be open to hunters. Hunt Safe!