Hooked on Hunting

Junior+Kendyl+Cook+poses+with+her+kill+after+a+successful+hunt.

Courtesy of Kendyl Cook

Junior Kendyl Cook poses with her kill after a successful hunt.

Ellie Phillips, Staff Writer

Waking up at the crack of dawn in order to make it to the blind by sunrise. Carrying heavy equipment up a ladder. Sitting in the freezing cold anxiously awaiting a glimpse of an opportunity to shoot. Nervously taking a breath before taking the shot. Trudging through the forest attempting to find the animal after the shot has been made. While this does not sound appealing to many, the rush of the experience is something that has drawn students toward hunting. Senior Katelyn Kreimendahl said she began hunting in 2020 and her love for it has only grown.

“My favorite thing is just sitting there; it’s kind of relaxing,” Kreimendahl said. “You get to watch the view, the scenery. It’s kind of cool. Especially bird hunting. You just get to watch. Then with raccoon hunting, you get to see the stars at night.”

While hunting can be a way to see beautiful scenery and connect with nature, it can also be a thrill-seeking experience. Kreimendahl said both of these emotions come along with hunting.

“I mean, it’s all relaxing until you actually shoot something and then the adrenaline gets going,” Kreimendahl said. “Especially with me, my first time hunting was this year, so it was new to me and the adrenaline would start going when I hit something because [I thought,] ‘how did I do that?’”

As a beginner, each kill is exciting for Kreimendahl. The shot that was most prideful for her was two ducks. She said it was a defining moment because it was unexpected and made her overwhelmingly happy.

“I was duck hunting and it was probably the last hour we were there,” Kreimendahl said. “We were like, ‘we’re not going to see anything. We’re not going to see anything.’ And all of a sudden, we saw some ducks so we started calling in and three came flying in and circled around us, and then we went up to shoot and we got two out of the three, which is better than none. But, I hit both of them, surprisingly, for my first time, so that made me super proud. And I was so happy that I was shaking.”

Junior Kendyl Cook said she also experiences a feeling of adrenaline and excitement when hunting. The risk / reward nature of it provides an uneasy, yet admirable feeling for some hunters. Cook said she has been hunting since she was young on land in LaCygne, Kansas. Hunting is used as a bonding time for her and her family members.

“My most recent kill was a 12-pointer buck,” Cook said. “And it was only about a month ago.”

The ‘pointing system’ for bucks is related to the size of the antlers. Sophomore Will Clark hunts multiple types of animals including deer, pheasant and bobcats. Clark said he has been hunting for seven or eight years.

“I started hunting because my dad and my older siblings were hunting so they got me into it,” Clark said.

Being introduced to hunting by family is a common theme with teenage hunters. Hunting traditions and teachings can be passed down from generation to generation. While for most hunters, the pros outweigh the cons, there are some difficulties to the sport that drive some away.

“The fun part is when you get something and go to track the blood and try to find the animal,” Cook said. “Being able to find the animal is fun, because you get to see how big it is and what you scored. The not so fun part is waiting for an animal to come out because sometimes you’ll sit out there for hours and leave with nothing.”

Hunting tends to be a mixture of relaxation and excitement. Kreimendahl said she dislikes the walking aspect of hunting. On the other hand, something that keeps Kreimendahl hooked is the calmness of the night.

“With raccoon hunting, I really like watching the stars,” Kreimendahl said. “It’s so peaceful and quiet at night.”

In a world of diverse and contrary opinions, there are always people that will have negative things to say about people’s interests or hobbies. Some people disagree with the concept of hunting. However, Kreimendahl believes that is vital to keep balance in the ecosystem.

“To me, it’s kind of just that raccoons and opossums are pests,” Kreimendahl said. “They get into stuff. Deer are overpopulated and they carry diseases. So, it’s better to get the diseased ones out; you can’t eat those. It is better to keep them controlled to where it’s not overgrown.”

Clark agreed with Kreimendahl’s opinion and said preventing overpopulation is a key reason for hunting. He said the animal does not go to waste; it is used for meat and fur. Another positive thing about hunting is knowing how to obtain your own food. Kreimendahl said hunting is a good skill in order to be self-sufficient in case of an emergency. Each hunter has a preferred weapon of choice. For Cook, this is a Savage Model 99 M .308.

“I either use a 12-gauge shotgun or a 65 Creedmoor rifle, depending on what game I’m hunting,” said Clark.

No matter the gun being used, each hunter has their own approaches, strengths, and weaknesses. Living in the Midwest, in a relatively spaced-out area, provides students with opportunities that others may not be privileged to have. Among these three students, a common theme is a joy surrounding the sport and fond memories.

“My favorite thing would probably be the feeling when it happens all so quick,” Cook said. “It’s exciting. Especially since you don’t know if you’re going to get one every time; it’s like a hit or miss.”