Stoic Philosophy and Deer Hunting go Hand-in-Hand
By Eric Clark | PUBLISHED January 17th, 2023
If you've listened to the Okayest Hunter podcast or know me personally, you may have picked up on my interest in Stoic Philosophy over the past couple of years. So I thought I'd put together a write up on the similarities between the two things I enjoy, deer hunting and stoic philosophy.
Deer hunting and stoic philosophy: two seemingly unrelated pastimes that, upon closer examination, share some striking similarities. As an Okayest Hunter, I've come to realize that the two pursuits have more in common than I'd have have thought.
First of all, both deer hunting and stoic philosophy require a great deal of patience. Whether you're sitting in a tree stand or saddle for hours on end, waiting for that perfect shot, or practicing the art of "indifference" as the Stoics do, you have to be able to sit still and wait for the right moment to take your shot. The Stoic philosopher Seneca said "It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it." And let me tell you, there's not a single deer hunt that I'd consider as a waste of time. Just as a successful hunt requires patience, so too does a successful life according to the Stoics.
Another similarity between deer hunting and stoic philosophy is that both require a certain level of detachment. As a deer hunter, you can't get too attached to the idea of shooting a deer. You have to be ready to take the shot when the opportunity arises, but if it doesn't, you can't let it get to you. A number of hunters have found themselves feeling frustrated with their hunting season and it can take the fun out of it if you're too serious. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said "Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it." Similarly, the Stoics teach that we shouldn't get too attached to things outside of our control, like wealth or fame, because they can be taken away at any moment. We have to forgo the thought of a grip n' grin for the Gram and enjoy the process of the hunt and all it has to offer; embody the hunt. You should never have to explain yourself to another hunter. Remember, it's your tag and your hunt, so if it makes you happy tagging a spike, a basket rack, or even a 200" monster, pull the trigger.
Lastly, both deer hunting and stoic philosophy require a certain level of humility. Hunting has likely served us all a big ol' slice of humble pie, as it reminds us of our place in the natural order of things. Fred Bear, one of the most legendary hunters of all time, said "Take time to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness. Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints." We are not the top of the food chain, and that's something that's easy to forget in our modern, human-centric world. Whether you're hunting small game, big game, or even predators, remember Fred Bear also said to immerse yourself in the hunting experience. Similarly, the Stoics remind us that we are just a small part of the universe and that our individual desires and ambitions are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
So there you have it, folks: deer hunting and stoic philosophy may seem like vastly different activities, but they both require patience, detachment, and humility. Who knew that a morning spent in the woods could be so philosophical?
P.S. If anyone else loves stoic philosophy I'd love to hear your comments. Moreover, if anyone has an intro to Ryan Holiday, we'd love to have him on our podcast!