Is upland hunting a sport? Or is it an art? Semantics aside, sure, it’s a little of both. Is it more one than the other? That’s where the argument never ends. When I think sport, I imagine opposition and a need to keep score. I think there are people who are actually really good examples of this mentality-the folks who are always worried about who got limits and probably take pictures of upland game hanging from their clenched teeth. Yeah. Those guys. Is there anything wrong or illegal about how they conduct themselves? No. Technically not.
Upland hunting, in my point of view, is an art much like fly fishing. I just feel like these styles are more authentic forms and they look to preserve tradition in a way that long-range deer hunting or bait fishing cannot. A few years ago, I came up with my unique concept of “The Art of Upland Hunting” and began referring to it as UplandJitsu. It morphed into a blog for upland hunting, and though I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get out of it, I knew that I wanted to portray upland hunting from a different perspective.
I wanted to approach provocative issues. I knew I wanted to tell stories and help people get into upland hunting, but I also wanted to use my creativity to get my point across about my own philosophy. When people hear the word “UplandJitsu” they figured I was probably some kind of Jiu-Jitsu nut who also hunted. That’s partly true, but the meaning behind The Art of Upland Hunting goes a little deeper. Jitsu (or Jutsu) roughly translates to “the way” or “the art of.”
Growing Up With the Art of Upland
Hunting was always just kind of around when I was a kid. It’s practically part of my DNA. The other constant in my life was martial arts. As a 6-year-old, I was a shy kid and pretty unsure of himself. I had a few run-ins with some bullies and the next thing I knew, I was in karate class. I have been in some form of martial art ever since. Through this I’ve gained practical ways to defend myself and built confidence in myself and my voice. As I got older, I studied various martial arts, and I became interested in the shared philosophy which centered around cultivating one’s mind. In their most practical form, martial arts are skills learned to defend and defeat an opponent. But the true art is really improving oneself and being the best version you can be within whatever martial art you are studying. Martial arts are more than sport, fighting, offense, or defense. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about bettering oneself. Martial arts, by design, was meant to spill into your personal life as well. It’s about growing and being present in this world and appreciating nature, art, and all living things (even our enemies). Essentially, you learn to fight so that you never have to, and I found that very empowering.
in learning to hunt and learning to respect nature, and especially in respecting the shotgun in my hands, I felt and saw many parallels to my studies in martial arts. There were rituals, customs, and a respect for tradition. So, “UplandJitsu” came to be. Walking into the uplands, is like walking into the dojo for me. I bow my head in reverence and respect, and I surrender myself and accept the lesson at hand. I’m thankful for this time. I clear my head and I am present. I treat my time in the field as an opportunity to not only challenge myself, but to learn, to teach, and to become better. In the most extreme, I am prepared to die out here, much like the martial artist pledges when he or she prepares to train.
It’s not about how many birds go into my vest, but the journey that it took to get there. It’s about what I learned through pushing myself to be a better upland hunter. And of course it’s about the knowledge I pass on. It’s about appreciating the birds, especially the ones who sacrificed themselves in pursuit of enlightenment in the uplands. This is UplandJitsu.
READ MORE: BECOMING A HUNTING MENTOR IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT (AND MAY SAVE THE PASTIME)
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