Trophy Hunting: Genius of the AND vs. Tyranny of the OR

Another Bolen life lesson

By Allen Bolen

My good friend’s voice came through my phone, “I’m not like you, Allen. When I go hunting, I like to enjoy the experience, so I just hunt for a nice representative animal. It doesn’t have to be some big trophy.”

I smiled to myself and rolled my eyes, just a bit. Was it worth the effort to set him straight? Alas, no. As I usually do, I let it go. 

But still I must ask myself: Do so many people believe that one must choose between great things? Is humanity resigned to the wretched condition of limited options? 

Do you choose wealth or happiness?

A demanding, stressful job or having many enjoyable hobbies?

Enjoying your workouts or being in world-class-athlete shape?

Bowhunting or trophy hunting?

Trophy hunting or hunting for enjoyment?

I suppose I’m too greedy to make such choices. 

The word “or”, in its oppressive tyranny, would limit us to either A or B. It strives to strangle our vast potential to have both.  

“And,” on the other hand, is a plentiful and enticing word. In its boundless generosity, it exists in the realm of paradox, where free men can choose to combine deceptively opposing ideas. 

I wanted to explain all of this to my friend. I wanted to tell him that when I hunt, I have the time of my life, and, at the same time, I bowhunt for the biggest trophy in the woods. And that coming home empty-handed does not decrease my enjoyment, but rather builds my enjoyment toward a goal that fulfills me. Because for me, a hunt without a kill does not exist in isolation. 

For example, last fall I hunted antelope for 11 days and did not kill. I could have killed many average bucks, but I was after a giant. The way I see it, my hunt was not unsuccessful, it just hasn’t been successful, yet. I’m simply 11 days into my hunt, which will continue this coming August and maybe extend to the August after that. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event to kill your first big antelope, so I will appreciate each day of the journey. Who knows, when it’s done I may even feel sadness at its completion. 

Yes, I can hunt hard for trophies, come home with an empty pack and enjoy all of it. It’s about perspective and doing those things that make me tick. 

But I also must ask myself, where else in my life can I find abundance over scarcity? Where else am I thinking in terms of the “or”–when genius can be found in the “and”?