“Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.” – Fred Bear
For part two of this deer series I wanted to share one of my most remembered hunts which had a series of ups and downs along the way to success.
A few years back I kicked off opening week with a private land hunt. Now hunting private land is a rare treat for me. So to set the lay of the land, this was a small chunk of land with a nice wood line that butted up against a golf course. Opening morning was hot and wet. Yes it was like a dam in the sky had burst and the repair guy was on vacation. Leading up to the start of the season deer were everywhere. In fact pulling into camp the night before I watched 3 or 4 does feeding and hanging out. However for the better part of the day nothing came my way and I just sat hunkered down in some dead fall in the pouring rain.
Around mid afternoon things finally cleared up and after lunch and a quick nap I moved into a tree stand on the edge of the field on the back side of the lot. About an hour into my sit I finally got my first taste of action for the season. A small button buck wandered into view at 150 yards out. Well that was just about how close he and I would get each other on this day as he trotted off the way he came after about 20 minutes. For my evening sit I returned to the dead fall set up overlooking a path in and out of the golf course. About 45 minutes before the end of legal shooting, there came that group of does along the corridor I was locked into. It was time for wet hours of sitting in the rain to finally pay off I thought to myself. There she is at 45 yards a crack shot for me. Well I got set and squeezed the trigger, my shot dove just underneath her, she jumped the string and bolted. Deflated I retrieved my bolt and took my cold wet walk back into camp for the night thinking ahead into the next morning.
Rolling out bed still chewing on that miss of the previous day I could feel in my bones today was going to bring a change of luck. Well as I started my way out to another deadfall sit I felt a million and one eyes watching me. No I wasn’t half asleep with my mind playing tricks on me there were 8 does bedded down along the tree line. With still a couple of hours till first light I found myself in a weird spot because there could be a filled tag handed right to me, I just had to play it smart. After assessing the situation I decided to slowly back out and use the road to try to swing around on them.
Now it’s like it took me a million miles out of the way from where I was heading. However this was indeed forcing me to switch my game plan on the fly. I managed to work quietly and slowly around them. This snap decision went better than planned as I came upon the hill I walked up on a buck I had heard was roaming the area. He was a respectable 6 pointer and my focus was clear. With some time left until legal shooting time started I began my mental checklist of things I like to do before I shoot. By the time the magical moment came around I was set up about 35 yards out from him. I watched patiently as he grazed and sniffed around. Finally after what seemed like hours he gave me my shot and took it. I snapped off a clean shot and filled my tag with a deer I had heard stories about. One that was much more of a surprise and to this day still stands has one of my favorite kills.
The reason I decided on this story for the second entry in this series is not only for the redeeming feeling of taking a buck right after missing a doe the evening before, or even the example of keeping flexibility as a tool in the backpack on any hunt. I shared this story to highlight some of the ups and downs we face throughout any kind of event in life and how persevering can provide the path to not only reward but also a much grander prize at the end of the tunnel. Sure it would have been a satisfying prize to have taken that doe after a tuff opening day. However by missing her it opened up the door to adversity and further adventure I may have missed had I been busy with the harvest I missed or just packed it and called it quits after just one ruff day that led to miss.
Things in life don’t always pan out the first time or always end up going the easy way all of the time. Each one of us is going to fall and have setbacks. No matter how little or how big any challenge is, it’s not the marker to which we should hang our hat upon. It’s a minor detail in the story of how we reach our next successful moment. Yes in this story all the factors revolved around a really tuff deer hunt which led to a grand harvest. However the underlined theme is, even with the obstacle of rain and cold throw on some rain gear and jacket, get out there and hunt it anyway. If your trial is depression or anxiety take a deep breath and take your time to walk the path. It’s still worth the walk I promise.