While food is definitely a factor, we have lived mostly off of game meat at our house for more than 10 years now, it is only a portion of the reason and reward of hunting. Perhaps Fred Bear best described it as "Soul Cleansing".
I feel a "peace" when I'm at field. I sit alone in my blind or stand and think and ponder a multitude of things in complete relaxation. Yet at the same time I feel relaxed my instincts and senses are at a heightened awareness noticing the most minute movements, noises or changes in my surroundings. I feel as I become at one with the world. Not man's world, but God's.
Wiping the sweat from my brow while planting trees or clearing lanes, twitching my nose at the cold tingle of a winter day while sitting in stand, listening to the patter of raindrops on the timber floor under the canopy of pines, listening to the water of the creek as it flows over the near by creek, smelling the musk of a rutting buck, and a seemingly endless list of sensual triggers is something that I crave and can't imagine my life without.
And while I so enjoy the solitude of a hunt, it is also the camaraderie of hunts/hunting that often brings me together with friends and family in scouting and preparation sessions, deer camps, pheasant hunts, butchering days, and of course sharing and enjoying the fruits of our hunts. The amazement of watching my dogs work a scent, and the excitement of a point and the anticipation of what they've located is different than most any other activity I do, as is the rush of an approaching deer, or the adrenaline dump after releasing an arrow.
I feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment not only in my kills, but in what I do for mother earth in my efforts as a conservationist, and possibly most rewardingly as a father who has passed down not just an activity, but a skill, a discipline, a way of life, to my children that I hope will benefit them no matter what avenues they choose in adulthood.
Live to Hunt, Hunt to Live.