“The art of hunting” is a very interesting phrase. Frankly, it depends on what, where, how, and why you are hunting that will determine the art. To expand upon this idea, when it comes to deer hunting in Northern Minnesota, I feel that I understand the art of hunting very well.
I have hunted that area for many years, so understand the way the deer move in the areas that I hunt. I also understand the countryside and how it changes based upon different weather patterns; know where to set up my morning or evening hunt depending on the wind speed, wind direction, and the general weather conditions like temperature and humidity; and I have a good feel for what will work best depending on the time of the season that I am hunting.
If I changed the game that I was hunting to something like elk, then I would have to say that I know very little about the art of hunting. I really do not know very much about elk, the way I should go about hunting them, or even what to do to get started.
I believe that the art of hunting varies with the hunter. If you know what you are interested in hunting, do the research to understand your prey, obtain the right equipment to go after that prey, and spend time learning how to hunt that prey, and then are successful at it year after year, then you have learned the art of hunting for that particular species.
I do know people that are great hunters and know how to hunt several different game animals well, but they are not easy to find. Most of them spend every open season hunting something. They spend almost the entire off-season preparing for the various hunts they plan to do, and they seldom do anything else. I do not know very many people that can afford the time to do this, much less have the interest and drive it takes to pursue hunting that seriously.
I will say that there are times when I am out in the woods that I really begin to feel like a hunter of old. I am not saying I am carrying a spear or a slingshot, but just that I am truly hunting – tracking a game animal and trying to determine where it is headed so I can get there first and wait for it. I have had the awesome experience of sneaking up on a deer and getting close enough for a good shot without the deer realizing I am there. These are the things that make me feel that the art of hunting is close at hand.
Deciding where to set up hunting stands, learning to shoot straight and learning to recognize the signs left by the animals you are hunting are all learned skill sets. It is when you figure out how to put them all together into a successful hunting campaign that the art form materializes.
Just thinking about hunting gets me excited about it all over again. I don’t hunt very many different animals, but I spend a good share of the year thinking about what I will be doing next Fall when it is time to get out there and hunt again. I think about what new hunting areas I might explore before next hunting season begins, what type of stands to set up and where, and how to do the best job of setting up my sons for their season as well.
To me, “The art of hunting” is defined by preparation, experience, and primarily, love of the hunt itself. Without the love, a hunter cannot possibly understand the art of hunting at all.