Opinions are divided when it comes to hunting. While some people vehemently protest against any type of hunting, many revolve their lives and schedules around the hunting season. As landscapes continue to change due to urban sprawl and other human endeavors, many animals become overabundant in certain areas. Hunting is necessary to manage animal populations and conserve wildlife. What’s more, it has a host of physical, mental, and economic benefits for those who hunt.
What Role Does Hunting Play In Wildlife Conservation?
Although trophy hunting has a severely negative impact on the populations of endangered species, according to an NC State professor, ethical hunting provides the backbone of wildlife conservation in America. As well as managing animal population sizes and maintaining the landscape, hunters contribute financially to state wildlife agencies. Through tag purchases, hunting licenses, taxes, and other fees, hunters contribute hundreds of millions every year.
Certain animals, such as elk or deer, can become too populous in their environments. An over presence of species threatens the well-being of various other animals. It can also affect the health and safety of people in the region. If deer overpopulate an area with people, there are often increases in the number of vehicle collisions.
Wildlife agencies monitor the landscape, species, and ecosystems in their areas and take actions to address any issues. This generally involves distributing a set amount of hunting tags to deal with excess numbers of animals. It also involves implementing new rules and regulations relating to the area.
Benefits of Hunting
As well as being beneficial for animals and landscapes, hunting has a positive impact on the people involved. From the health benefits of hunting, like eating nutritious protein-filled meat, to the fitness advantages associated with hiking through forests and mountains. Fresh air and the outdoors also has mental health benefits as it allows you time to escape from everyday life and increase your vitamin D intake.
Most ethical hunters’ main reason for hunting animals is for food. A single hunt can provide them with enough meat to last a full calendar year. “Eat what you kill” is a common phrase heard around hunting circles, as hunters take responsibility and adopt a responsible approach to their craft. There are also resources for hunters to donate excess meat to homeless organizations and other food programs.
As well as being a responsible way to feed yourself, organically sourced meat can be very nutritious. Where shop-bought meat is often packed full of additives, growth hormones, and antibiotics, animals killed in nature are generally a healthier source of nutrients. Due to diet and lifestyle, game meat usually has lower fat and higher protein content.
Wild game meat is also full of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc. Fatty acids provide essential nutritional benefits and contribute to controlling cholesterol levels, and help with digestion, cardiovascular health, immune system function, as well as skin and bone health. Iron and zinc can boost the immune system, with iron being particularly beneficial to women.
Good Source of Exercise
Essentially, hunting is a form of sport. It can be seen as a strategic pursuit where hunters must train, study, and perform in the moment to be successful in their prey. Hunting generally requires participants to have a certain level of stamina. It’s common for hunters to train specifically for the type of hunting they do, ensuring they’re in the best physical shape possible to be successful.
Hunting is physically demanding. As well as traversing hills, mountains, and other hunting grounds, hunters must prepare blinds, monitor food plots, scout the land, and maintain their weapons. They must also spend time training, target shooting, and in some cases, training hunting dogs. As such an active lifestyle, hunting is a great form of exercise that can contribute to a very healthy way of life.
In addition to the preparation and training that go into each adventure, hunting is great exercise. Even carrying a rifle for a few hours is exercise, with an average firearm weighing approximately 12.5 lbs. Hunters that use a bow and arrow may not have the same amount of weight to carry around, but a bow takes a lot of energy to shoot. Depending on the hunter and their physique, a compound bow can have a draw weight between 30 lbs. and 90 lbs.
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Hunting helps stimulate local economies. To hunt successfully, it is beneficial to own quality clothing and equipment. This means there is a huge demand for hunting stores, clothing brands, and firearms stores for hunters to buy their items. In hunting regions, these businesses add significant revenue to the area.
As well as businesses that are directly linked to hunting, other businesses that contribute to the industry also benefit, such as hotels, restaurants, lodgings, and retailers. These businesses can receive huge influxes of revenue due to the presence of a hunting culture in the area.
Education in Nature
A major aspect of hunting is education in nature. It’s vital that you know about particular traits that the animal you’re hunting has. You must know their habits, tendencies, and how they interact with their landscape to track and locate them. This type of first-hand education allows you to gain in-depth knowledge about different species.
Hunting also teaches you survival skills. From learning to locate and kill a wild animal to pitching a tent and orienteering, hunting can show people true survival skills. These abilities are invaluable in emergency scenarios.
Mental Health Benefits
One of the most understated benefits of hunting is improvements to your mental health. Simply spending time in nature and the outdoors has a lot of benefits. Hiking or walking in nature increases endorphin production, which boosts your mood and helps fight depression.
Light exposure also affects how you sleep, which is a major factor in mental wellbeing. Natural light reduces the melatonin levels in the body, allowing you to feel more awake and energized. Elevated melatonin from a lack of sunlight can make you feel tired and sluggish.
As an escape from the office, a TV screen, or social media, hunting is a nature-based pursuit that requires mindfulness and focus. By taking a break from the stresses and frantic thoughts that go with a modern lifestyle, your mind gets a chance to relax, refresh, and unwind, which can have tremendous benefits to your mental state and quality of life.
Expand Your Hunting Skillset and Reap the Rewards
Learning to hunt has many benefits but glory and trophies shouldn’t be your main targets. It’s important to take it slow and develop your skillset to reap the most rewards. Start small, make strategic investments in quality equipment, and start to grow as a hunter. One of the best ways to do this is to begin with small game and make your way toward larger species.
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