For most people nowadays, hunting is a recreational sport, but for thousands of years, hunting has been a necessity for humans as a source of high fat, high protein nourishment. But besides providing game for the table, hunting also has a plethora of mental and physical health benefits for those who choose to engage in the sport, says Charles Reed Cagle. It also benefits the environment and your surrounding ecological structures.
Hunting Helps With Wildlife Population Control
The ability to buy a burger in a restaurant or a whole chicken in the supermarket with no more effort than driving to the store and swiping your card may make hunting seem obsolete. But the lack of need for hunting can actually lead to a wild imbalance of certain species and ecosystems, says Charles Reed Cagle.
For instance, many large predators like wolves, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions have all been driven out of rural and urban areas alike by human settlements. With a lack of natural predators, deer populations are left to boom in surrounding forested areas. As the herds grow to disproportionate numbers, greenery is stripped, other animals have to compete more fiercely for food, and–in worst-case scenarios–the deer population starts to starve, leaving them vulnerable to disease. A once well-balanced ecosystem is collapsing.
This is where hunting steps in. the Wildlife Commission sets carefully monitors the local deer populations and sets guidelines and restrictions for hunters to ensure that overpopulation is controlled without wiping out the herd completely. The deer that remain are able to live comfortably, and the status quo of the ecosystem is restored.
Hunting Is Good for Your Mental and Physical Health Says Charles Reed Cagle
Hunting also has great benefits for the hunter as well, says Charles Reed Cagle. Walking through the woods, climbing into the deer stands, holding the gun or bow in position, carrying the game, and field dressing it–all of this requires tremendous physical effort. You get a lot of aerobic exercise and strength training in one when you’re hunting for long periods of time.
It also helps clear the mind, says Charles Reed Cagle. You learn how to use your breathing to slow down your heartbeat and keep your hands steady–not unlike during yoga and meditation. This helps lower your blood pressure, decreases stress, and allows you to be mindful and present in your body.
Being outside is also excellent for your mental health. Enjoying nature lowers blood pressure and increases serotonin–the “happy” chemical–production in your brain. And on top of all that, hunting is usually a very social sport. Hunters often introduce their children to the sport at a relatively young age and then friends and family groups hunt with one another in a boding experience that builds social bonds and increases overall happiness and quality of life.