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What is the Meaning of Hunting? | Chase Your Experience

November 15, 2022

By: Sean Smith

My phone lit up with anotification for a new video published to YouTube. I glanced at the screen quickly reading the topic, “Has Hunting Lost its True Meaning?”  I had no intent of surfing YouTube at that time, but the title of the video spiked my curiosity, so I clicked on the notification.

The video was about fourteen minutes long as the host, Jake Sleasman, laid out his impromptu thoughts on the subject.  After watching the video, I sat and thought of a comment to post, which really is what inspired this article. I spent a fair amount of time pondering on what my own meaning of hunting was.  Followed by writing some initial thoughts, and correcting them, until I settled on what you are reading now. In an effort not to steal Jake’s thunder, I’ll only reference a few points that he made throughout this article.  

While Jake did explain what he saw as the meaning of hunting, grounded in the experience and providing for family and friends with just a touch of conservation of a resource; he talked a lot about some issues he had with several trends in the hunting world. High dollar high fence hunts being one.  He compared it to finding a farmer, handing over a large sum of cash, and then shooting one of their cows.

I can relate to his feelings on this style of “hunting.”  I remember watching a bison hunt in Yellowstone National Park that Randy Newberg published.  While he was successful in his pursuit, there was one moment that he passed on a great shot.  As the herd was just yards away, Randy was all set up for his shot.  However right over his shoulder, watching everything go down, were several “observers” as he called them.  These “observers” were non-hunters with binoculars, cameras, etc. watching the herd and his every move.  After passing up the opportunity, Newberg explicitly explained that was not the experience he wanted.  He further compared the moment to shooting cattle, and not a wild animal, and those magnificent creatures (bison) deserved better than that.

While it may not be for everyone, even those that pay high dollar to shoot a high fenced animal are not, “wrong.”  They just go about doing what I intend to do in a different way.  Is it legal? Yes. Is it the experience I’m looking for? No. Should they be demonized for enjoying a different, legal experience? I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair judgment of those that do. All I know is when I happen across one of their hero pics, most of them have the same spark in their eyes, and ear-to-ear smile that I wear in mine!

Jake made another point in his video that I thought was worth discussing. In no certain amount of words, he broadcasted his general dislike of the social media hunter.  You know, the ones that troll others across the media platforms, shaming them because they shot something other than a Boone and Crocket specimen.  This reminded me of a particular podcast I had recently listened to, and the waves it caused soon after.  Maybe not to the level that Matt Rinella’s article and following podcast appearance rose to, but pretty close.  

The HUNTR Podcast tackled something similar with their guest John Eberhart.  If you haven’t watched that one yet, I’ll give you the heads up, John’s comments and opinions are going to irk some people. During his interview, John called out personalities such as the Drury’s and Don Higgins for, in his opinion, not being real hunters.  This may not be verbatim of what he said, but that was the spirit of the conversation.  The hosts, Jeremy and Jared, did a good job trying to reel that back in to what matters, the experience the hunter is chasing.  

Whether hanging from a saddle two miles in or sitting in a box blind over a perfectly grown food plot; that individual is chasing the experience that THEY want. Not what you want. Not what I want; but, let me say it again, what… THEY… want!  The issue is not the experience that individual is chasing, its when the hunting social media trolls try to force their experience onto other people.  

I’ll continue to pick on John Eberhart as an example to better explain this. Before I do, I want to preface with I respect both John Eberhart and Don Higgins.  I have never met either one of them, but it doesn’t take much searching to find their resumes.  They have accomplished more in the woods during their lifetime, than I can only dream to complete.  Now… since that is out of the way, let’s continue. 

By this point it is known that John called Don Higgins ability as a hunter into question.  Citing a lack of respect for Don as a hunter because, in his opinion, Don couldn’t hunt public land in Pennsylvania or Michigan and kill big deer consistently.  

  Some see jealousy, or that John is jealous of Don’s success.  I see that John is trying to force the experience that he prefers onto Don.  I can’t really speak for Don Higgins, I’m not him, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the experience he wants. Neither men are wrong in the experience they want, and both men are accomplished in earning those experiences.  Either of the two men, if they wanted, are more than capable of learning and mastering that alternative experience.  We know this because they were disciplined enough to master their own.  

In the end, this is a challenging topic to take on, and I applaud those willing to do it!  Fortunately for us, no one perspective will be the ultimate truth.  Everyone who goes a field do so for their own unique reason(s).  The one thing that is absolute, whether we agree with it or not, is the line between legal and illegal.  Beyond legality, all that remain are beliefs and opinions.  

Like you, I have my own beliefs into what hunting is.  I love to hunt with a compound bow.  That does not make me better than the hunter using a crossbow, or the one who enjoys rifle season.  Nor does it make the trad bow shooter better than me.  In no way is anyone else bound to share my beliefs, and they are welcome to enjoy the experience they want, once again if it is done legally!  

Boil down our differences and what is left is one common theme, the experience.  Whether it was Randy passing on a bull bison because he didn’t like the experience, or someone paying for the experience of shooting a world class animal; it is the experience that drives us as hunters.  We are motivated to go to great lengths just to achieve it.  Do not let anyone shame you out of chasing the experience that you want. On the same token, don’t shame another hunter because their experience is not your own.  Finally, do I dare suggest that not only do we allow, but help each other, to enjoy our own definition of success!  

It’s those reasons that I chose to join the GoWild community!  It’s THE social media platform for others like me to share their experiences, without fear of being shamed or targeted for their successes in the outdoors!  Whether helping you celebrate your chosen experience or just lending some helpful insight; the GoWild  family is just a post away!

“ Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience.  It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person”

  - Fred Bear

About the Author:

Sean is an avid archer. Whether chasing whitetails in Ohio, elk in Colorado, hogs in Texas, or hitting a 3D course, Sean spends every moment he can with his bow. 


With a background in law enforcement and education, he found himself unemployed in 2020.  With newly found free time, his passion for the outdoors and archery led Sean to start the Kountryfried Outdoor Productions YouTube channel. The channel is a passion project featuring Sean and two of his closest friends, Josh Davis and Samuel Dunlap III

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