Cut from a Different Mold: Redefining my Demographic

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
— Henry David Thoreau

This day in age, we are all too familiar with Generation Y – also known as millennials. Those within this generation were born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s and are associated with plenty of negative connotations. In fact, I would be willing to bet that by me simply mentioning the term, several of those negative characteristics have begun to infiltrate your mind.

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Millennials are stereotypically notorious for being lazy, narcissistic, unappreciative, reliant, and a bit delusional at times. The root of all evil seems to be largely placed on issues related to coddling, which in turn breeds mindset in millennials that creates unrealistic expectations for work and a huge emphasis placed on materialistic things that they feel should be handed to them. There also seems to be a disconnect in this generation where there is more focus placed on extrinsic things like money, image, and fame, rather than intrinsic morals such as self-acceptance, hard work, independence, and community affiliation. Partaking in all of these twisted perspectives, millennials are further known for frequently finding themselves experiencing a lack of fulfillment, and therefore, embarking on a never-ending pursuit to find happiness because of skewed and underdeveloped values.  

I will say, it is pretty ironic that I am writing this article, because I am a millennial myself. I have been on the receiving end of all of the millennial jokes under the sun because of my age more times than I can count. In reality though, I share nothing more than a date of birth with Generation Y. You may be wondering, how is that so? How could I not be influenced by all of those around me that are also labeled as “millennials”. To answer this question, I thought long and hard about the course of my life and where the road diverged for me that led me in one direction, while others were led down another. My parents did not raise me much differently than others, I did not experience any extensive hardship that I was forced to overcome, nor was I especially privileged with exposure to unique opportunity. After consideration, I finally reached the thing that I knew had to be the reason for my disassociation to my generation – hunting. Even though I didn’t always know it, hunting was always the moral compass that persistently guided me away from my innate demographic, and I will be forever grateful for it.

The lessons that hunting taught me are what clearly defined my morals and helped me to establish beliefs from a very young age, and they are almost the direct opposite of typical millennial mindsets. I was taught patience when I chose to log countless hours in a tree stand in the eastern part of the country, or spend day after day in the open country of the west putting on stalk after stalk. At times these lengthy endeavors would yield a harvest, but more times, they would not. This led me to develop perseverance and a deep craving for challenge. There are few things in life that can elicit such feelings as what are felt when scouting for and tirelessly pursuing animals that require a riddle to be solved in order to take them.

Because I had developed such a deep-rooted respect for animals through hunting, I also became very detail-oriented and somewhat of a perfectionist because I wanted nothing more than to always pursue and take an animal in the most ethical and humane way possible. I embodied dedication when I would commit time to shooting my rifle or compound bow so that if I was lucky enough to be presented with the opportunity for a shot at an animal, I was giving them my best shot.

I was also taught how my actions had direct reactions, and therefore, how important it was that my judgement be precise. I knew that each and every time that I was pulling my trigger or releasing my arrow, I was doing so in order to take a life. In this way, I was exposed to death, and death that I had chosen to induce. Through this, I was taught hard lessons regarding remorse, compassion, and ultimately the circle of life.

While processing and consuming my harvests, I developed such a love for authenticity, rawness, and naturalness. I became intrigued beyond measure when I saw how hunting came full circle starting from pre-season scouting, tedious pursuits, killing, and then nourishment through meat. I find it difficult at times when trying to explain this to non-hunters, and especially to anti-hunters. But the way that I find the explanation to be most effective is when comparing it to spending money – it is much more pleasurable to spend money that you have earned through hard work, rather than spending money that has been given to you for no good reason at all.

I owe all that I am, and all that I am not, to hunting. Some of the most valuable and most difficult lessons in life were made sense to me almost inadvertently by living this lifestyle. I have felt so much fulfillment, happiness, love, and community through hunting, which are feelings that I am not sure that many people today can say that they have truly felt. When comments or jokes are made at me for being a millennial, I simply smile and nod my head, because I know that that label could not be any more far off. I am not a millennial, I am a hunter.