Someone commented in the meat / trophy poll about the stages a hunter goes through in his / her lifetime. Whether you agree or disagree, it makes for interesting conversation. Here's some information on that:
Years ago a study of over 1,000 deer hunters was done by Dr. Robert Jackson and Dr. Robert Norton, of the University of Wisconsin. They concluded that hunters pass through the following five stages in their hunting career:
Beginning hunters want to become proficient and are most focused on shooting an animal than on other aspects of the hunt.
Most hunters progress to this stage, where the primary goal is to harvest as many animals as is legally allowed. The measure of success for hunters at this stage is in how many animals they’ve killed. Ego often comes into play here, with hunters bragging to each other about their success rate, or how many of which animals they’ve killed.
Hunters in this stage have enough knowledge and experience that they become more selective, choosing animals with the largest antlers, or animals that he has not hunted yet. Conservation ethics come in to play as the hunter realizes that larger animals are somewhat rare. Ego often plays a part here too, with the hunter feeling a certain sense of pride in shooting the biggest one.
Hunters at this stage have “been there, done that” and are more focused on hunting technique than large collections of animals. This is one point where some rifle hunters may pick up the bow, or choose other methods that limit themselves and present a greater challenge than methods they’ve already mastered. These hunters often have a very good working knowledge of the life science of the species.
This hunter has nothing to prove to anyone. He knows the animal he hunts, has been involved in many kills, and is likely involved in organizations who’s purpose has to do with the preservation of hunting or with wildlife conservation. He is frequently more concerned about the experience of new hunters, and is willing to teach them.
These stages frequently merge together, and it is common to find hunters that have elements of several stages within themselves all at the same time. This is especially true of stages three through five.
I think the dynamics are a bit different in places like Alaska, where in some cases the emphasis is on food. But most of us are not primarily focused on the food aspects, according to our poll. So... where do you find yourself? When you see the photo of the black bear below, does your trigger finger itch, or are you content to let him walk away? Or are you, like me, the guy in the next valley sitting there in the rain seeing nothing? :-))