For some NU students, hunting offers thrilling outlet in nature

For Norwich students who like to hut, many factors appeal, from the skills involved to the joy of being outdoors in the woods and fields.

For Norwich students who like to hunt, many factors appeal, from the skills involved to the joy of being outdoors in the woods and fields.

Hunting season means a chance to relive childhood memories, experience an exhilarating moment, and connect with the outdoors, according to student hunters on campus.

Whitetail deer, pheasants, coyotes, bears, and various varmints are just some of the game animals that students at Norwich University choose to hunt. Depending on the type of game being hunted, different weapons can be used.

Isaac Bonneville, 21, a junior criminal justice major from Libertytown, Md., has been hunting since he was six years old, and is an avid hunter. “I primarily use a bow,” Bonneville said. “Bows can generally cost you around $400 but this includes arrows, broad heads, sights, and quivers.” He explains that bow hunting can be beneficial because you can reuse the arrow, as opposed to constantly buying ammo for a rifle.

“I use a Savage bolt action .308 to hunt deer and bear, but I hunt pheasant with an old 12-gauge shotgun my grandpa lets me use,” said Michael Johnson, 21, a senior SWAP major from Fayetteville, N.C.

Different firearms, bows, arrows, ammunition, and other accessories can total thousands of dollars. The weapon pays for itself over time, but the real pain is the cost of constantly buying ammo, students said.

Thomas Kanies, a 21-year-old senior civil engineer major from Rockland, Mass., explained that because of the different laws in different states, he owns various guns including a 12 gauge pump action shotgun for hunting in Massachusetts and a .308 rifle for when he hunts in New Hampshire.

Interest in hunting often comes at a young age from a mentor who had already been hunting for an extended period of time.

“I was seven when I took my first animal. It just so happened that my grandfather was a long time hunter and had taught me to shoot at an early age,” said Rory Fellows, 21, a senior history major from Bergheim, Texas.

Hunting on his ranches helps prevent wild hogs from invading and displacing other animals or destroying farmland and livestock. He also goes with his dad and uncles “both for the meat and for the bonding experience I get with my father. He tends to travel for work, so hunting is a good chance to spend time with him.”

Amos Gaylord, a 19-year-old sophomore criminal justice major from Warren, Vt., was taught to shoot by his father starting at age four.

To Gaylord, hunting is not just fun, but a bonding experience. “I got into hunting mostly because of my father. Being a farmer, he was a very busy man and this was one way we could spend some real quality time together.”

Johnson grew up in a city, so it was tough to hunt until his grandfather had provoked his interest when he was six.

“I was interested from the start but when I shot my first doe with a break-action .243 when I was 11, I was hooked.”

Killing an animal can invoke various feelings in the shooter. Bonneville describes “buck fever” as being “uncontrollable shaking and increase in heart-rate” right before the shot.

“I feel like a victor,” Kanies said. It’s more of a battle between you and the animal when you’re hunting and when you kill, you feel like a victor.”

A clean kill feels like a “home-run,” according to Johnson. A kill can give a hunter an immense adrenaline rush, but it can also create a horrible sensation, according to Bonneville.

“If it’s a bad shot and you watch the animal suffer, it can be painful and heartbreaking to watch,” he said.

Hunters view hunting as a natural outlet for humans and dispute those who think it is cruel. Ryan Hawley, a 21-year-old physical education major from Jacksonville, N.C., said, “The way animals are slaughtered today is somewhat necessary but disgusting at the same time, but hunting is a more humane way of killing an animal. As long as you follow rules and are respectful of the environment, you are promoting a balanced ecosystem.”

Because natural predators do not exist in many areas, hunting helps maintain a balanced ecosystem. Johnson explains that hunting is not cruel, but is a way to regulate the natural wildlife balance.

“Humans are nature’s most adaptable and strongest predator in every aspect,” he said.

Those who hunt at Norwich said they felt most people are opposed to hunting due to lack of knowledge. They only see what the media reports on, which is usually hunters breaking the rules, or they see claims of animal cruelty, which Bonneville believes is not an argument against hunting when compared with industrial farming.

“I describe the mistreatment of the animals and the types of hormones and preservatives that are injected into meat that people eat. If a person is a vegetarian, I simply attempt to explain to them other ways, generally crueler. Animals die in the woods by starvation, disease, winter deaths, and other predators,” he said.

The best part about hunting is not the thrill of a good kill, or the fresh meat in your freezer – although those are benefits – but it’s being out in the wilds.

“The thing I love most about hunting is just being in nature. Going out and watching the wilderness come alive is truly why I go out,” Bonneville said.

Even if he doesn’t end up “bagging an animal,” Fellows said that the experience of the outdoors and being surrounded by nature is enough for him.

“I think the problem with America is that people today want to sit on the couch with a Playstation controller and they have lost touch with how people were meant to live,” Johnson said, “It’s very primal to be outside in pursuit of something, waiting to kill it. It feels natural. Even if you don’t get to take a shot, just sitting outside, listening to the sounds of nature and enjoying being outside is amazing. I think if more kids started hunting and fishing at a young age, you’d see less crime and a more productive society.”

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