I love waking up at 10 a.m. on a golden Saturday fall morning in September. Growing up in a northwest Colorado small-town, September kicks off the biggest economic intake: hunting season. New faces line the streets left and right. Pickups drive through town carrying the hunter’s greatest trophies. Bull heads with big antlers make the best truck bed decorations.
Personally, hunting is typically not on my agenda. My bed is too cozy to crawl out of at 3 a.m. to catch those four-legged wapiti who are hiding in frosted-over valleys. But just because I don’t like to go hunting, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.
My understanding of how hunting helps keep population size down and feeds families for an entire year ran deep as I grew up in a small-town of 2,500 surrounded by those who lived for the colors of fall. When I was little, I was embedded in the Denver Metro area where the disconnect of understanding about what it’s like to hunt your own food was blurry across the urban cul de sac I was riding my bike in. The misunderstanding of hunting was spread across my early days of social media. Specifically, posts from PETA supporters who swore that, “Elk truly are just animals that roam the public lands.” In all honesty, if any of those people who thought camouflage was just a fashion trend walked into any small town on the Western Slope they would understand that not all elk roam, some of them in fact hang on the wall.
The negative exposure of hunting makes judgment easy for those who don’t understand why some go out with guns loaded. It’s not always about finding the biggest bull in the herd. It’s not always about showing PETA that indeed, there are those who wear camo not as a fashion trend. It’s about helping preserve our wildlife for years to come. It’s to keep populations down so our herds can maintain themselves.
By Paige Jones
NWCO Hunting Guide