I don’t normally write articles fueled by negative emotions. However, as a representative of both suburban hunting culture and as an urban hunter myself, I think it’s my right to reply to an Outdoor Life article entitled “Why I’ll Never be an Urban Hunter.”
In my opinion, this vague and negligent article only demonstrates how caught up the industry is in an unrealistic ideal of the full-time hunter. By doing so, it leaves the everyday part-time hunter in the dust. You know what else I find frustrating? If you Google search “urban deer hunting,” it is the first article that pops up (in October 2013, anyway: now Urban Deer Complex comes first). As a result, it has perhaps both discouraged people from becoming urban and suburban hunters and fueled anti-hunting propaganda. In my response to “Why I’ll Never be an Urban Hunter,” I give you “Why I Am an Urban Hunter.”
Don’t ignore the adventure waiting in your backyard.
Life is unpredictable. It is built upon a vast, ongoing mess of random events we hope to control and guide towards the realizations of our dreams and goals. Things do not always go according to plan, as you know. Sometimes we wake up and wonder, “how did I get here?” or “when did my dreams become so impossible?”
If things had gone according to plan for me, I would not be hunting the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. Dreams of hunting the “dark continent” of Africa and the vast wilderness of Alaska cluttered my childhood. Looking back at 32, I can say confidently that those dreams were just the wild imagination of a boy. But instead of focusing on a negative like that, let me share a quote with you from Teddy Roosevelt that contains some good advice: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
That is the opening quote to my book The Urban Deer Complex. It sums up why urban hunting has become so important in my life and in others. The realities of a full-time job bind me to the financial district of Boston. And despite what many may think, the nightclub scene is not my thing. Though the job is incidental, I am grateful for the stability it brings to my family.
Everyday my heart grows sick with the need I have for trees and birds and Mother Nature. I’m not looking for sympathy. Yet due to the demands of my job, I can only escape about one week out of the year. I travel north to the hunting camps of my childhood to hunt ruffed grouse. That escape tastes sweet in comparison to the cluttered lifestyle and fast-paced hustle that dominates my weeks, days, hours.
I have 51 remaining weeks to maintain my sanity and I thank the urban deer phenomenon that has fueled the makings of so many urban hunters like myself. If you find yourself surrounded by backyards and mown lawns, but cannot see the beauty around you, you’re doing something wrong.
Mother Nature bangs at our backdoors and presses against our yards, reminding us that she cannot be paved or bulldozed away. That comforts me; it should comfort you, too. She will adapt and fight back and, I am sure, someday take back her grounds. She lives around the backyards we struggle to maintain in the inevitable cycle of death and reclamation.
You can find nature everywhere, even in the cracks of city streets. Of course, I wish I could find myself further from the suburban sprawls of North America. I am happy regardless in my urban hunter sanctuary. We hunters here have gotten to witness how Whitetail deer have cleverly adapted to the hostile landscape of their greatest predator’s stomping grounds. It humbles me to be a part of that circle of life.
As I get older, I hope to make some of my childhood dreams a reality. Until then, I feel lucky to have been born into the suburban deer phenomenon. That is why I am an urban hunter. Ignore the naysayers: go find the adventure creeping into your backyard.
Last modified: November 8, 2019