The allure of elk hunting in Utah
by Drew Chowbay
The Times-Independent
Mar 08, 2018 | 1375 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
​ The deadline to apply for a 2018 big game hunting permit has just passed, which got me thinking about an aspect of southeast Utah culture that is often underrepresented in popular culture, which is of course, hunting.

​ Southeast Utah is known worldwide for its stunning landscape and unique tourist attractions. Sure, we have everything from off-road trails to white water rapids, but Utah also provides rare opportunities for big game hunting. Deer and elk season does not begin until mid-August, and hunters are not allowed to use rifles to hunt elk until early October of this year.

​ This means that the first portion of hunting season in Utah is reserved for bow-hunters, a skill I did not have enough respect for until recently. The subject piqued my interest after an episode of The Joe Rogan Experiencepodcast featuring Cam Hanes. Hanes is a renowned bow hunter and ultra-runner whose rough-and-tumble personality, coupled with humble grit, has earned him an Under Armour sponsorship.

​ In the podcast, Hanes and Rogan recap their “epic” elk hunt that took place in the mountains of southern Utah late last year, and the whole thing was captured in an Under Armour-sponsored YouTube mini-doc. As the two detailed their love for hunting, I was forced to consider my own skewed perception of the “sport.” I have always been skeptical about placing big game hunting (or hunting in general) under the “sports” category, namely because one team has no idea they are participating.

​ This may be my liberal bias showing, as I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay fishing, crabbing and clamming for food, yet had no idea why anyone would have the need to shoot animals for the very same reason. Of course, my opinion on the matter has changed over the years as I have met many people who hunt and keep their own meat.

​ Not only is big game hunting a sustainable practice, it absolutely is an art form all of its own. From listening to Hanes and Rogan detail their love for bow hunting, I became captivated by the level of skill it takes to be able to actually put it to practice.

Rogan is also quickly becoming an advocate for killing your own meat, and I can’t really argue with his logic.

​ He has consistently been able to feed himself, his family, and many of his friends from the take of one elk for about a year. All things considered, this seems to be a pretty healthy option. It’s also easier on the wallet and the environment, saving countless trips to the grocery store buying processed meats that are often farmed in ways that actually damage the environment further.

​ We often examine various ways to eat healthier and preserve our natural resources, but for whatever reason, hunting is seemingly off the table when it comes to these discussions. It seems as though many people find the killing of animals by one’s own hand to be cruel and needless, all while having no problem eating animals that were killed in mass-production facilities.

​ With all of this in mind, I’ve added hunting to my list of things to do while living in Utah. The way Hanes and Rogan describe their love for hunting, as well as their disdain for needless trophy killing, the more I can see how fulfilling hunting can be. It’s as visceral as an experience can get, connecting us to both our ancestors and our food. I can imagine the sense of pride and humility involved with reaping one’s own take, so to speak.

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