Why Hunt? from Ghost Buck by Dean Bennett

I’ve been asked from time to time why I hunt. I’ve never had a good answer because I never thought about it much. It was something I grew up doing, and I took it for granted that this was just something my family did in the normal course of our lives, as did many other families in my town. I have hunted deer for nearly seven decades now, and, on occasion, event absented myself from my own job responsibilities to pursue the white-tails, just as my ancestors did at the E.L. Tebbetts Spool Company mill.

Most everyone will tell you that Why do you hunt? is a complicated psychological and sociological question, without a simple answer. But after a lifetime of experiencing this urge which lurks in the back of my mind throughout the winter, after the fall hunt, and then begins a restless squirming in spring that gradually worms its way into my consciousness as summer progresses, awakening into an overpowering longing with the first smell of dying leaves in the fall, I think I’ve finally found the answer––for me, anyway.

If you are someone who doesn’t hunt, you may see parallels here with something in your own life that you love to do year after year––something that occupies your memories, daily thoughts, and plans for the future, something that bonds you with family and friends, and something that adds its little bit to the character of your community, and, on a large scale, to the collective culture in which you live.

But if you are someone whose very existence is gripped every fall by an irresistible urge to hunt deer, you will see more than parallels: You will see yourself here.

And if you pursue this passion in a special place where you’ve gone as long as you can remember, you will find a deeper meaning in this story––a meaning drawn from the simple pleasure of connecting with yourself, with others, and with a certain place in nature, and with one of its creatures of grace and beauty: the white-tailed deer, an animal interwoven into the fabric of our culture.

This was an excerpt from the preface of the memoir, Ghost Buck: The Legacy of One Man's Family and Its Hunting Traditions by Dean Bennett. Dean Bennett is a writer, hunter, environmentalist, cabinetmaker, musician, and science professor, from Greenwood, Maine. Much of his professional life has been devoted to teaching, and to writing and illustrating books in the fields of science and environmental education, natural history, and human relationships with nature.

His book Ghost Buck, published in 2015 won the John N. Cole Award for Maine-themed Nonfiction at the 2016 Maine Literary Award. The book is available from Islandport Press, online book retailers, or from your favorite local bookstore.

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Created with images by sebilden - "untitled image" • geralt - "fall foliage autumn leaves" • Larry Smith2010 - "White-tailed Deer 2-14-15", Dean Bennett

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