Why I don’t hunt

The suburban environment may have shifted my opinion on deer hunting.

by Ronald Dixon

One of Minnesota’s many hallmarks, aside from its lakes, long winters and mediocre football team, is deer hunting. The state’s firearms deer hunting season began earlier this month, but I found myself wary to join Minnesota’s tradition.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported that about half a million Minnesotans hunt deer. About one in three Minnesotans hunted or fished in 2011, the second-most of any state, according to a National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

In Minnesota’s rural communities, deer hunting is more than just recreation; hunting has its own culture and economy.

When I was a child living up north, I hunted with my father’s family for a few years. They own a hunting shack on the outskirts of Hibbing, Minn., and they make it a tradition to hunt deer every year. I even have my own hunting rifle.

A few years after moving near the Twin Cities, however, I decided that hunting wasn’t for me.

There are several reasons for this. In high school, I took on new obligations, leading the debate and speech teams. While balancing other passions and my course load, I simply lacked the time.

Furthermore, sitting in a deer stand for several hours, freezing one’s feet off, is not the most enriching activity. I still snowmobile, however. It’s cold, but it offers the adrenaline rush of exploring beautiful trails.

But the biggest reason was my move from the Iron Range to the suburbs and the University of Minnesota.

Perhaps it’s the calm, clean and man-made atmosphere of the Twin Cities that turned my goodwill of hunting. It wasn’t hard to find nature in Hibbing, because it lacked the level of industrialization that is palpable in the metro area. When I’m in the Twin Cities, an influx of stimuli — school, work and the urge to use technology — trump the instinct to hunt.

While deer hunting is necessary for environmental reasons, I prefer not to partake in my family’s tradition anymore.

I don’t despise hunting or hunters, but it’s interesting how my surroundings have likely altered my feelings for the tradition.