The purposeful hunter

I enjoy the reward of hunting and killing an animal so I can put food on the table.

Let's take that again. The reward. Not the killing.

I take pride in the result. Just like I do when I catch a fish. Or the time when I planted carrots and could share the meagre harvest with my wife and kids.

When hunting, I might get the meat. Or it might get sold. Either way, it's food.

That's why hunting is not a sport. Not to me at least.

It's a craft. It's about a job well done.

And that's why the specific act of hunting is something I want to do efficiently.

That's why I think of the ideal hunter as the purposeful hunter.

Purposeful as in single-minded, obsessive, driven and uncompromising.

And the purposeful hunter is the foundation for how we build gear.

Purpose-built hunting gear.

But probably not the way you think.

To us, purpose-built is not gear designed for mountain hunting, deer hunting, western hunting, safari, driven hunting etc.

That's how I used to think about hunting. And how I used to build gear.

But I realised that's all wrong.

Of course, those things are relevant, but at best they're the wrong place to start. At worst, they're just mindlessly applied labels.

So what should we do instead?

How do we approach hunting if we're single-minded, obsessive and uncompromising in our pursuit for a "job well done"?

The light clicked for me when I re-read Stephen Covey's "The 7 habits of highly effective people". It's a book about goal definition and alignment that has sold 25 million copies.

Lots' of good stuff in that book, but two things made me reconsider the way I look at hunting (and building hunting gear).

Firstly, it's the idea we should be guided by principles (the habits in Covey's book). Because principles are timeless and apply to many situations - known and unknown.

By the way, that's incredibly helpful if you hunt abroad or on new ground. No matter the situation or conditions, you have principles to guide you.

And secondly, the 2nd habit turned things on their head for me (with great effect): "Start with the end in mind."

But how do we translate that to hunting?

For hunting, "the end" is a field processed animal, ready for transport and butchering.

So far, so good. But to me, that was difficult to operationalise.

So, surprise surprise, I reverted to processes to help me find answers.

And I came up with the concept of "the window of opportunity".

Does that sound a little far out? Stay with me.

When we hunt, we look for an animal. We shoot it. And we field process it. To make sure as much of the meat as possible ends up on a dining table.

The "looking for" part is about creating an opportunity to shoot the animal. And the "shooting" and "processing" parts are about successfully shooting the animal and putting it into the food chain. Maximising the window of opportunity.

Here's a summary.

Together, the hunting process and the window of opportunity give me a goal I can operationalise (create and maximise).

They have helped me define the five principles I use when hunting.

Everything I do as a hunter must tie back to a principle. Each piece of gear we make at RedKettle must link back to a principle.

They help us focus on the essential. And cut away all waste.

I'm not sure if you have spelt out a process for hunting like this. But I bet you follow similar steps intuitively.

But, if you've ever had a gear decision where the pieces didn't really fit together, you might have stepped away from your process and principles. And used the wrong labels or framework to guide you.

Next time you need to decide on a piece of gear, don't think "safari", "mountain" or "western". Don't just judge by "lightweight", "durable" or "quiet". Think process instead.

Think about the next step.

Ask yourself what you need do to successfully move from one step in the process to the next step.

Wow, that was a big mouthful. And we haven't even gotten started talking about the purposeful hunter and the guiding principles.

If you're interested in hearing about the principles, I'll send you in the right direction in the postscript (PS) below.

Let's talk about the conservationist.