It’s 4 in the morning, dark, cold and wet. After hours of waiting perfectly still, you begin to get hungry and thirsty, not bringing any food with you as to not give any hint of a scent away. Slight shivers run up your spine momentarily as a target’s outline comes into view. You slowly set up your rifle and acquire your sight picture. The last thing you need is for it to know you’re here. It’s 25 degrees and you’re sucking on an ice cube to hide your breath. You’ve spent the last 3 hours without making a sound, spent countless hours masking scent, trekking the woods and finding the perfect spot, testing the capabilities of your rifle and different loads for it. The time is now, you may not get another shot. You line up your shot. BANG! As your target drops, a smile and sigh of relief comes. You know your work isn’t finished, there’s still a long trek ahead of you, this time carrying the extra weight of your newly downed target. But there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.

Ah, the joy of hunting. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to join a hunting party up in the Brady Texas area the last weekend of 2017, closing what was an otherwise fairly rough year with the promise we have now. As the businesses grow, I also grow closer to my family and faith.

Now, for all of the different denominations of vegetarians out there that want to attack hunters as being “savages” or “murderers” please understand that what responsible hunters do is actually GOOD for the environment. Hunters are arguably the greenest part of the population. Let me explain as I slide my tongue over my canine teeth:

First and foremost, hunting is good for the environment because the hunting community ensures that wildlife populations of game species are sustainable for future generations. This requires that a diversity of natural habitats be kept intact, unpolluted, and undisturbed. Hunters, in general, support all these efforts.

Second, they thin out invasive species. Here in Texas, wild hogs destroy entire ecosystems. It is actually more responsible to kill off as many hogs as possible, sometimes not even bothering to eat them, than it is to allow them to continue to roam free.

Third, the animals taken by hunters are a healthier option for food, and, as we all know, eating healthier, organic foods keep you from needing to go to a doctor as often. It’s all the processed foods that we eat that typically get us into health issues, especially those high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup (fat is fine, a topic for a later discussion). And with good ‘ol Obamacare already costing an arm and a leg, why not try to avoid the doctor’s office a bit more?

Fourth (I’ll make this my last point even though there are likely way more i can think of), The taxes from hunting activities are used for enhancing wildlife habitat, managing and maintaining parks and wildlife refuges, and conducting surveys and research to determine the status of not only game animals,  but also some nongame species. So, hunters also contribute in a big way financially to benefiting natural environments.

Truth is, hunting is one of the purest ways in which humans continue to keep in touch with nature. There have been many times, such as this last hunting experience, that we all understood that no bucks were to be taken, as we are currently working toward more favorable numbers of doe to buck to ensure the population stays healthy for our children to hunt the same land when we are all gone. Hunters have worked with ecologists, wildlife recreation groups, and organizations that focus on habitat protection.