|Copyright ©Heidi Koehler Photography|
That morning I had reached a certain point in “the evolution of a hunter”. As with all things in life the perspective of a hunter changes as time goes on. These stages are broadly recognized as the “Shooter Stage”, “Limiting out Stage”, “Trophy Stage”, “Method Stage” and finally the “Sportsman Stage”.
As a hunter matures the factors of what he may consider to be a successful hunt may change, so may his goals, ethics and often his role models and hunting companions too.
The “shooting stage” is the phase where a young or new hunter ties his success closely in with getting a lot of shooting done or at least seeing lots of game animals that provide him with exiting opportunities. A young or new hunter is also very inquisitive, constantly observing and investigating everything that happens around him to learn from it. It is at this beginning stage of his evolution where it pays to keep a close watch and guide the hunter in the right direction and tame his or her trigger happy eagerness.
When the hunter reaches the “limiting out stage” the satisfaction is still somewhat guided by the numbers of animals that he is able to take in a given season. It’s called the limiting out stage because at this stage the hunter is driven by the desire to fill his allowable game limits, but unlike the “shooter” this hunter has learned much about hunting tactics and will employ that knowledge with almost religious eagerness to achieve his goals.
The hunter who reaches the “trophy stage” is very selective about what he wants and what he regards as “success”. These hunters look for a very special animal and for that they are prepared to travel far and wait for years until the opportunity arrives to take that very special animal that they have set their mind on. For them the “kill” becomes less important than the search and hunt itself. In this case even a hunt without a kill is a success because “success” is also measured in experiences made.
“Method hunters” have accumulated all the equipment and knowledge they possibly could or would need. The satisfaction for these hunters still comes from the game they take but more so from the methods they employ. Method hunters can spend days, weeks and months planning a hunt or particular strategy. Quite often the planning and strategy becomes more of a focus than the “kill”. They may make it more challenging for themselves simply because they are bored with what they consider the “easy way” of achieving success. At this stage of a hunter’s life it’s often just the knowledge that he could have pulled the trigger if he wanted too that provides the satisfaction.
And finally, when a hunter reaches the “sportsman stage” he tends to mellow out. This hunter has achieved everything and accumulated an immense knowledge about wildlife, nature and conservation. Now it’s time to slow down and smell the roses a bit. This hunter’s satisfaction often comes from the total experience of being out in nature with friends and family. The Sportsman stage hunter does not have the inner urge anymore to go hunting at every available moment at his disposal. If he wakes up on the morning of a planned hunt but doesn’t feel like it anymore he goes back to bed, knowing there will be other days to go out to hunt.