Hunting is a polarizing topic. People are generally for or against it with little wiggle room. Lately the interest in hunting is on the rise. Many are eager to learn multiple skills, enjoy the great outdoors and embrace a sustainable and responsible way to fill a freezer with meat. The world of hunting and its closest friend, fishing, include people who hunt for all sorts of reasons. This article focuses on hunting as one piece of the puzzle.
“I think I speak for myself and most hunters when I say we believe in a game law called ‘fair chase’,” Matt Angus explains. “It means that in this area, hunters can’t take unethical advantage like baiting game.”
Angus is a Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE) Instructor, a provincial program that teaches the ethics, laws, survival skills and firearms safety needed to obtain a fish and wildlife ID (FWID) number. A FWID is required to buy a hunting license and enter limited entry hunting. This means entering a lottery system for a ‘tag’ to hunt an animal of which only a select number are legally allowed to be killed, like moose or elk.
“There is so much more than just going out and harvesting an animal. Hunting means learning woodcraft, where to locate the animals and enjoying the big picture — the scenery and wildlife you see out there,” Angus says.
Local hunter Lindsay Jakus, a former student of Angus’s, agrees. “A lot of hunters from around here will tell you that what makes it so great is what you put into it,” Jakus explains. “We often go out and don’t even take a shot. First we do our research —looking at watering holes, game trails, and finding out where the animals are.”
Jakus’s husband Ash grew up in Australia, where he partook in hunts with an Aboriginal community. “It taught him to really respect the animal and the life you’re taking,” Jakus explains. The two have been hunting around Revelstoke for several years. They represent a growing number of hunters who participate, not for trophies or bragging rights, but to be responsible for the meat they eat.
“When we kill a deer or a black bear, we know that those animals are free range and wild and their deaths are quick,” Jakus explains. Jackus believes the social disconnect regarding where food comes from is very real. “That’s why we hunt, so we can re-establish our human instinct of hunting and gathering.”
The philosophy of responsible hunting practices resonates in the local hunting community. The Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club teach that only kill shots, the animal’s heart or lungs, should ever be taken. The club’s annual banquet celebrates the members’ season and awards various trophies.
“For most hunters, shooting the animal doesn’t make you happy,” Angus explains. “You don’t stand on the dead animal pounding your chest. You’re happy for the food it will supply your family, but you’re sad as well. It really hits home the reality of life that something has to die so you can live. It connects you to the outdoors unlike any other way I’ve experienced. If the animal happens to be a big size and you win a trophy, all the better, but it’s not why you’re out there.”
“When you’re out there and seeing the wilderness and animals, you really care about it. You want your kids and grandkids to be able to have these experiences,” Angus elaborates. “Hunters are huge advocates of conservation of land and animal territory and support necessary bans, like the ban on hunting doe mule deer due to low number. We see the consequences of habitat loss and declining or inclining animal numbers.”
Something not often talked about is the importance of the comradeship of hunting. “When you hunt together,” Angus explains, “You make lifelong friends.”
The what, where and how
Animals most hunted for food in the Revelstoke area: mule and whitetail deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain goat.
It isn’t easy: Terrain around Revelstoke isn’t always easy to navigate, and the animals are often very high in the mountains. Many days of studying trails and habitat are often necessary and patience is a virtue.
Steps to learning to hunt: Take the CORE program, which is available online, and obtain your firearms license. Next, join the Revelstoke Rod & Gun club and hone your shooting skills at their Bullet Basin. “Don’t hunt unless you can shoot an animal in the heart or lungs,” Angus encourages. “Put the time in on the range.”
Buddies: Make a friend at the range, or better yet, a mentor. Once you’ve obtained your FWID number, tag along with someone who knows what they’re doing. Learn the area, explore, and know where you can and can’t hunt.
This story first appeared in the October/November print issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.