By Brad Neathery Photo by Tanner Johnson
Words are powerful.
In an age where sportsmen are being constantly critiqued and facing continuous bouts of misrepresentation, our words are more impactful than ever before. Whether for personal aspiration or to help convey a thought, sourcing philosophical statements, ideology, and wisdom from those who have dedicated their life to helping communicate a particular topic is something to be mindful of.
In an effort to equip both hunters and non-hunters with the tools necessary to help restore the perception of hunting, we have curated a list of some of the most notable quotes made in regards to hunting, conservation, ethics, and land use. May these quotes be a mantra for us to live by.
To sum up, one does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted. If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.
– Jose Ortega y Gasset
It has always seemed to me that any man is a better man for being a hunter. This sport confers a certain constant alertness, and develops a certain ruggedness of character….Moreover, it allies us to the pioneer past. In a deep sense, this great land of ours was won for us by hunters.
- Archibald Rutledge
I hope that the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by. Or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them.
- Margaret (Mardy) Murie
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
- Henry David Thoreau
The hunter who accepts the sporting code of ethics keeps his commandments in the greatest solitude, with no witness or audience other than the sharp peaks of the mountain, the roaming cloud, the stern oak, the trembling juniper, and the passing animal.
- Jose Ortega y Gasset
Wilderness is a necessity... They will see what I meant in time. There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls. Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual. In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow.
- John Muir
A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than that of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.
- Aldo Leopold
In a civilized and cultivated country wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wild life, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.
- Theodore Roosevelt
We must not only protect the country side and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities … Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.
- Lyndon B. Johnson
Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness.
- Harvey Broome
I do not hunt for the joy of killing but for the joy of living, and the inexpressible pleasure of mingling my life however briefly, with that of a wild creature that I respect, admire and value.
- John Madison
Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.
- John James Audubon
There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.
- Theodore Roosevelt
Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.