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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
News, Views and Tips on Psychological Health and Well-Being
Deer hunting: The ultimate wellness activity
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By Nathan W Gates

Nathan W. Gates will be discussing topics related to health, wellness and psychological well-being. Nathan is a licensed clinical professional counselor at Spoon River Counseling & ...

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Living Well

Nathan W. Gates will be discussing topics related to health, wellness and psychological well-being. Nathan is a licensed clinical professional counselor at Spoon River Counseling & Wellness in Canton.  He also teaches, speaks, writes and, when time allows, fly fishes for any species that will chase a fly.  The fishing is often neglected, as he also has two young children with his wife, Emily.

 

Learn more about his counseling practice here: Spoon River Counseling & Wellness

 

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By Nathan Gates
Oct. 7, 2013 12:56 p.m.



When you think of activities that exemplify health, wellness and psychological well-being, what do you think of?  

You might think of running, going to the gym, or other activities that promote physical movement. You might think of healthy eating, or quality sleep. Perhaps you think of contemplative type practices such as yoga or meditation. 

Quality time with friends and loved ones might come to mind, as might church attendance or prayer. 

All of these are, in fact, highly associated with well-being.  But I'd like to suggest somthing else, something that probably does not make it onto most people's list of wellness promoting activities. It should, though, as it involves a whole lot of things that are highly conducive to physical and psychological well-being.

I'd like to suggest that deer hunging is a near perfect "wellness-enhancing" activity.  Let's look at what is entailed in hunting for deer to see why this is the case.

Physical Movement.  Of course, the actual act of hunting for deer generally involves sitting as still as possible in a tree or a blind. Not that vigorous. However, taken as a whole, the activity of pursuing deer promotes and neccesitates at least a somewhat active lifestyle. Scouting in the off-season involves spending as much time as possible in the woods walking about. Set up takes time and energy, and if you are going to be up and down a tree and tracking animals through the brush, it really helps to have a baseline level of fitness that allows you to do those things without too much discomfort.

Healthy Eating.  Venison is pretty much the other, other white meat.  No, not really, it is clearly a red meat, but like bison, it is a very healthy one. Compared to beef, for instance,  it is lower calorie and lower in saturated fat.

Time Outdoors.  Time spent outside is good for you.  There is a significant and growing body of research that supports the notion that time spent out of doors is good for stress management, blood pressure, immune functioning, and more.

Social Contact.  Deer hunting is certainly a solitary activity. However, it also brings people together. From providing gifts of salami to others or giving you an oportunity to shed hunt with friends, it certainly provides ample opportunity to connect with others around your interest. 

Solitude and contemplation.  The time spent in the stand waiting for quarry is more still and quiet than anything else you are likely to do in your life. Stillness and quiet are, in fact, the entire point. It is not that often that we have the opportunity to just sit still in the woods, listening to the quiet sounds of nature and watching the unfolding day ripen with the rising of the sun. It is a deeply peaceful way to start or end a day. 

Most hunters certainly don't need a reason to engage in the activity that they love.  We hunt because we hunt, not because it is healthy.  But, the next time someone gives you a hard time for spending too much time in the woods, you can reply that it is an important part of your healthy living plan.

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