The author is a decided hunting generalist (Photo: Vanessa Harrop)

Opinion: Whether you’re a specialist, a generalist or something in-between, you’re a hunter through and through


Adventurer Jeff Eno is a classic hunting generalist (Photo: Jeff Eno)

Not all hunters go through the five stages, however, and not all hunters can be pigeonholed into being a generalist or specialist. Some hunt strictly for the meat, just as the Inuit, Dene and Cree of Northern Canada still do today; they are happy to take whatever crosses their path. While few of us live a truly subsistence lifestyle anymore, there are hunters out there who hunt for no other reason than to feed themselves, their families and their communities.

In general, though, most of us in today’s society don’t need to hunt to survive, and it’s this divergence from hunting strictly for survival that has allowed us to become specialists and generalists. We can specialize in hunting only one species until it becomes a near obsession, yet not be judged. And we can travel to hunt and not have to justify why we do it.


We are still hunters, and feeding our stomachs is important, but in our modern society, hunting is also nourishment for the soul. It has enabled us to explore more of our psychological connection with hunting, while still feeding a primordial need to hunt. As psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, “In the act of hunting, the hunter returns to their natural state, becomes one with the animal, and is freed from the burden of his existential split: to be part of nature and to transcend it by virtue of his consciousness.”

On social media, we hunters need to portray ourselves as providers. More than 80 per cent of the public supports hunting for meat, but that drops by more than half when terms such as “trophy hunting” are used. Let’s face it: the non-hunting public does not understand why we hunt, and saying we hunt for meat is an easy out. And in truth, we do hunt for meat—it may be consumed by ourselves, or it may be shared with a larger community, but it is eaten. We can never lose sight of that, but to say it’s the only reason we hunt is untrue for most. It’s just easy.

Even if the non-hunting public will never comprehend our motivations, it’s critical for hunters to understand and respect that while we each hunt for individual reasons, we’re all bonded by something deeper within us being fed.