Hunters typically go through different stages during their lives, from wanting to shoot just about anything to mellowing out and enjoying the experience.
This “Five Stages of a Hunter has been kicked around since about the mid 1980s following some research work. Two professors at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Robert Jackson and Robert Norton, interviewed more than 1,000 hunters in Wisconsin. Their answers to questions about hunting, their habits and their experiences contributed to Jackson’s and Norton’s report.
We all through them, or some of them, during our lives. As we get older it’s easier to see where we may be, and remember some of the different things that we did in each stage. Or, as Charles Alsheimer explains on his site, we think about transitioning from one stage to another and why some of those changes happened.
The hunter talks about satisfaction with hunting being closely tied to being able to “get shooting.” Often the beginning duck hunter will relate he had an excellent day if he got in a lot of shooting. The beginning deer hunter will talk about the number of shooting opportunities. Missing game means little to hunters in this phase. A beginning hunter wants to pull the trigger and test the capability of his firearm. A hunter in this stage may be a dangerous hunting partner.
A hunter still talks about satisfaction gained from shooting. But what seems more important is measuring success through the killing of game and the number of birds or animals shot. Limiting out, or filling a tag, is the absolute measure. Do not let your desire to limit out be stronger than the need for safe behavior at all times.
Satisfaction is described in terms of selectivity of game. A duck hunter might take only greenheads. A deer hunter looks for one special deer. A hunter might travel far to find a real trophy animal. Shooting opportunity and skills become less important.
This hunter has all the special equipment. Hunting has become one of the most important things in his life. Satisfaction comes from the method that enables the hunter to take game. Taking game is important, but second to how it is taken. This hunter will study long and hard how best to pick a blind site, lay out decoys, and call in waterfowl. A deer hunter will go one on one with a white-tailed deer, studying sign, tracking, and the life habits of the deer. Often, the hunter will handicap himself by hunting only with black powder firearms or bow and arrow. Bagging game, or limiting, still is understood as being a necessary part of the hunt during this phase.
As a hunter ages and after many years of hunting, he “mellows out.” Satisfaction now can be found in the total hunting experience. Being in the field, enjoying the company of friends and family, and seeing nature outweigh the need for taking game.