By PJ Maguire

PJ soaking in a late season afternoon

Last semester I had a talk with one of my professors, Dr. Patton at the University of North Dakota, about class and applying what I learn to real life situations. Anyone that has ever received an education at UND and taken a class with Patton knows that he teaches through examples. He is a great story teller that enjoys telling stories and showing movie clips. In his office he encouraged me to apply outdoor activities to organizational behaviors', particularly Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

For those of you that do not have a strong background on theories, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs maps out the path to self-actualization. The theory states that a person cannot pass to the next tier until the lower needs are first satisfied. I believe that it relates very strongly to the core of many outdoor activities; particularly, hunting and fishing.

The first need of the hierarchy is Physiological Needs. This includes; food, water, shelter, and warmth. It is easy to see how these basic needs relate to the outdoors. First, early humans hunted not only for food, but for shelter and warmth as well. The pelts from large and small game animals were used to make clothes and shelters.

In the U.S. today we have plenty of food and shelter, so we engage in outdoor activities for more than these reasons alone. Although nothing brings the hunting or fishing adventure full circle like the actual eating of the game.

With the first need satisfied we can easily move on to the next, Safety; which is security, stability and freedom from fear. Stability comes along with the changing of the seasons. With the end of summer comes fall, with changing leaves and weather. Being in the outdoors and witnessing sunrises brings a sense of security that there are more important things in life than just school and working. Interacting with nature gives the feeling of actually being alive.

The third step towards self-actualization is Belonging-Love. This relates to family, friends and life partners. Hunting and fishing with others strengthens relationships and allows for reflection time. Hunting and fishing has taken me many places and I have made lots of good friends along the way. The hunting trips of my youth brought my closer to my cousins and uncles.

Judging by the smile on his face, hunting must do wonders for self esteem.

The four step deals with a more personal issue, Self-Esteem. Self-esteem comes from; achievement, mastery, recognition and respect. With a passion for the outdoors you want to be successful in what you are doing. You read articles, study game habits, surf the web, learn techniques and most importantly you get outdoors. Mastering the outdoors is a continuous process. As soon as you think you know everything about an animal or fish they will do something that will take you completely by surprise. Every hunting and fishing outing is a unique experience.

Once you become confident in your abilities you can move to the final step to self-actualization and come full circle.

Self-Actualization is all about pursuing your inner talents, creativity and self fulfillment. Through hunting and fishing you discover who you are by overcoming obstacles and challenging the elements. I often get asked why I hunt and I try to explain to people something that you have to experience to understand. I belong in the outdoors, and I am as sure of that as I am that the sun will rise over the Red River tomorrow morning.