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Hobby, Pastime or Lifestyle?

Ralph Cianciarulo with a fine moose

Ralph Cianciarulo with a fine moose

Recently while discussing something about hunting with my wife, she said, “I have never known anyone who was so passionate about a hobby as you are about hunting.” It was then and there I decided that if she felt my lifestyle was a hobby, then others may think this also, so I decided right then to see if I could explain it to her and thereby explain it to others who may also wonder.

In my line of work I have the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of different people from many walks of life. It is one of my greatest pleasures to hear the stories of the educated, over-educated and undereducated. To sit and talk with those who seem to have benefited from many of life’s greatest pleasures and those whose life appears to be a struggle at every end.

I have had the pleasure of talking with those who have hunted every continent for species many have never heard of and with those whose adventures seldom takes them beyond the back forty. Through all of this I have found that in the world of hunters, both male and female; there are really three classifications of those who include themselves in the throng of hunters. Those who label their hunting as a Hobby, Pastime or as a Lifestyle.

Vicki Cianciarulo with a nice bear

Vicki Cianciarulo with a nice bear

Those who would define their hunting as a ‘hobby’ are no less passionate, but due to many factors in their life, the pursuit is something they engage in a few times a season, when invited by others, or when the opportunity arises. They seek opportunities to engage in the thrill of the out of doors, but are limited in their resources. I have known several whose hunting is never more than a hobby. They seek the camaraderie more than the challenge. They are looking for an escape from what many of us call life to separate themselves for a few hours from the mundane day to day grind.  These people are very important to all hunters because they probably make up the majority of those who participate.

Perhaps the state they live in has short seasons, or limited opportunities. Perhaps there is not much public land, or it is several hours from home. Perhaps joining a lease is something that just cannot fit into their budget, they have the desire but not the opportunity. Their passion is real, their practice is limited.

Then there are those who I would define their hunting practice as a ‘pastime’. They may engage once or twice a year when visiting family. They are not opposed to hunting in fact they are adamant supporters of those who do hunt. But for different reasons, they just do not get the same thrill or satisfaction out of hunting as do many others. Spending time in the outdoors, is enjoyable, but not something they necessarily yearn to do. Hunting with family at Thanksgiving or Christmas is about as far as it goes. They will wander listening to beagles chase rabbit and care nothing at all about killing rabbits. They may sit for hours in a deer stand looking at nature at work. For these individuals, hunting is a pastime they engage in only a few times a year when they must, or when they can but it is not something they would go out of their way to do.

For a growing part of the hunting community, hunting has become far more than either a hobby or a pastime. It has become a lifestyle. A way of living your life that is focused heavily on hunting. Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo known as “America’s Favorite Hunting Couple™” have been promoting the hunting lifestyle since the mid 1980’s when Ralph first started filming his hunts. Few people have been as involved in the hunting industry as long or as successfully as has Ralph and beginning in the early 1990’s together with his wife Vicki they have ushered in the rise and popularity of hunting as couples and the promotion of female hunters. There are few who could argue that Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo laid the foundation for and set the bar for all others in the outdoor television to follow. You will not find better people or better ambassadors for the hunting lifestyle.

In a conversation recently Ralph and I were discussing the hunting lifestyle that he is so adamant about promoting. Ralph is very quick to point out that for he and Vicki hunting is a way of life. On the outside it is easy to see why since they make their living hunting animals all over the world. But as Ralph puts it, “you don’t have to make a living hunting in front of a camera for hunting to be your lifestyle.” He goes on to say, “most of the people who are passionate about hunting are not on television.” Ralph explains that if you look for every moment to get outdoors, and when you are not outdoors you are thinking about how to get outdoors, or planning your next trip whether it is to another state or back to your hunting land then you probably live the hunting lifestyle. Hunting is a way of life because it is paramount to your existence. You do not hunt because you want to, or enjoy it, you hunt because you have to! You have made the choice to spend your time, talents and energy pursuing game for the sheer thrill of it all. Hunting is not something you do, it is who you are. As a provider for your family, for yourself and to protect the resources. Hunting IS your lifestyle.

Be careful here, Ralph explains that there are some who will get their priorities messed up when hunting becomes their ‘life’ and not their ‘lifestyle’. Some will begin to neglect their family, their work, their responsibilities to God and family to hunt once more. This can have a very detrimental effect on the individuals and those they love. There is a fine line between hunting as a life and as a lifestyle. Keeping your hunting as a lifestyle and keeping your priorities on your faith and family makes one whole.

Many who see their hunting as a lifestyle do so because when they are afield, they are not just thrilled, but they are energized. Hunting for them is a year around experience. Whether you are hunting for whitetails in the fall, mallards in the winter and turkeys or bear in the spring. Hunting is something you just need to do. Add to this the opportunities to hunt for shed antlers, morel mushrooms, arrowheads or other finds in the outdoors. It really does not matter what you are hunting or why, just being there and enjoying all there is to enjoy from sunrises to sunsets it is all valuable and necessary.

On a personal note here, being outdoors is not only thrilling, but refreshing and invigorating. It is refreshing to spend quiet time outdoors watching wildlife. Nurturing wildlife and challenging myself against wildlife. The longest time of the year is after turkey season and before deer season. Four months of morning, yearning and looking forward to fall when it all starts over again. But those of us who hunt do not do it for the kill, while that is part of it, we do it for the experience of being in the out of doors and watching all God has made and marveling at the creation. No for us, hunting is not a hobby, it is far more than a pastime, and it is indeed a lifestyle. What is it for you?