I doubt I’m the only one who considers hunting therapeutic. The quiet of pre-dawn, the solitude of a tree stand, the connection with nature, even the mental focus of the shooting range — maybe we’re not even consciously aware of the extent to which these elements help us, but I believe the benefits to our physical and mental health are very real.
I think a lot of it has to do with the shift in perspective. I’m the type of person who frets endlessly about everything. And I mean stupid things – someone cuts me off on the parkway, I lose a favorite pair of earrings, IKEA delivers the wrong color couch – it’s laughable to think that any rational person would actually let these things get to them. But I’m a pro at needless worry.
Only a few things help to shake me free of those silly hangups. Music is a big one. The right song at the right time really sets me straight. Field time is another. On an average day, the quarter-inch grease stain the mechanic left on my driver’s seat upholstery seems like a towering injustice that signals the end of all that is good and decent in this world. But on a day in the woods, well, I can think straight. When the tree I’m sitting under has survived a zillion years of storms, winters, floods, wars, and untold natural abuses, what does my Volkswagen upholstery matter?
For me, the perspective shift is a kind of therapy through liberation. All those draining little worries just fall away, and I’m reminded of what’s actually important. And it’s not unusual that — upon my clear-headed return to civilization — I’m relaxed enough to remember where I left those earrings after all. –K.H.