Hunting in the Hills

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By: John Hollowell

Millions of Americans live in a “civilized” urban or suburban area where parking lots are more prevalent than pastures, and find themselves more frequently on freeways than in forests. For many, the “food chain” is simply a line at the cash register of a local grocery store.

hunting in the hills

At the same time, fewer property owners in the Texas Hill Country are able to make a living by traditional farming and ranching. And the wide open spaces of the sparsely-populated rural counties have become a very productive habitat for many species of wildlife, particularly the native whitetail deer. As any Hill country driver can tell you, there are simply too many deer.

Hunting In The Hills


Hunting leases help fill many different needs. Not only do they keep ranchers and small business owners solvent, but they help control deer populations in an environment that has been cleared of most other predators. Perhaps most important of all (because the hunters are the ones who pay for these other benefits), hunting leases provide hunters with a sense of freedom, satisfaction and connection with nature.

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To critics who argue that it’s more economical and humane to simply buy packages of meat from factory-style agribusinesses, hunter and writer Russ Chastain explains that he’d rather eat a deer that he himself had killed and dressed. He quotes an acquaintance, who says, “Why do we kill rather than buy meat? For the same reason many folks grow vegetables in their back yards… for the same reason amateur musicians play music rather than buying it… for the same reason folks paint or draw pictures, rather than buying someone else’s art… for the same reason many enjoy photography rather than just buying a picture book of photos… because of the pride that lies in doing it ourselves.” He points out, too, that hunting satisfies a human’s natural predatory instinct, and that it’s a lot healthier to eat meat from an animal that has run free and eaten naturally.

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Chastain sums up his enthusiasm for hunting by saying, “Hunting is freedom, a tie to our ancestors, peace, contentment, happiness, joy, sweat, close calls, exploring, hiking, stealth, boring, exhilarating, tiring, satisfying, challenging, and a thousand other things. It’s there for you to discover, and judge for yourself if you want to take part in it. But please, “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” That’s the only way you’ll ever know for sure.”

Hunting In The Hills


Other hunters mention the joys of stepping temporarily out of the modern rat race and getting back to the basics of nature. They like the challenge of matching wits with cunning wildlife in its own element and the satisfaction taking a trophy and putting “real” food on the table that never was part of the agribusiness manufacturing process. Others simply enjoy the bonding process that comes from hunting with friends.

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Whatever the personal motivations, hunters are a tremendous benefit to the Texas Hill Country, and almost every town goes out of its way to attract, welcome and thank them. Hunters are the lifeblood for many small businesses, and even businesses not directly affected by hunter spending benefit from a ripple effect that reaches almost everyone. We appreciate them greatly!