If my big 140 quart cooler were a man, he’d be a real jerk. Like, one of those has-it-all-together type of jerks. You know what I mean? Somewhere between a schoolyard bully and a spoiled rich kid with no connections to reality.
You’ve met these people. They’re the people without kids who give you parenting advise as you load up your party of 6? Or they have an MBA, but are working as a waiter while they wait for the ‘right opportunity’ and are glad to give you business advise?
It [the cooler] just sits over there mocking me. Day in, day out, it mocks.
Why haven’t you killed a deer yet?
Last year you’d killed 3 deer by now!
You didn’t even shoot a single arrow at a deer this year, loser.
Why don’t you just stay home and sleep, at least then you’ll accomplish something today!
I have to listen to his crap everytime I load him into the back of the Bronco and head out to hunt. “I don’t know why you’re even taking me along. Not like you’ll need me!”
This hunting season has been hard. I’ve only had one or two descent opportunities and neither of them presented a good enough shot for me to take it. It’s just been rough all around. I’ve been working a ton, trying to help with our new little one [the 4th little one no less] and I’m hunting some new property this year and haven’t figured it out yet. All signs point to me having a record breaking low-harvest year. It’s starting to get to me.
Have you ever had a season like that?
This isn’t my first, and I’m sure it won’t be my last. To try and pick myself up out of the dumps, I’ve been kind of thinking about these things.
#1 – Hunting Isn’t that Important.
I know. Crazy.
At the end of the day, I’m a husband, father, and friend first. I really like to go hunting. It’s therapeutic, ancestral, and connects with something deep in my soul. However, I have relationships with my family, friends, church, and clients and that all matters most. Not hunting. I would not sacrifice any of those things for hunting. Ever. Sometimes I need to remind myself of where my priorities actually are. Sometimes often.
I’m a hunter. I’m going to hunt. But really – Hunting doesn’t matter. If I lost my shoulder tomorrow, and I couldn’t draw a bow or absorb recoil again the rest of my life – that’s okay. We would probably all be wise to emphasize the things that would last beyond bodily harm or financial ruin (ie, love, family, peace, worship, generosity, etc) and enjoy hunting for what it is – an opportunity.
#2 – Killing Means it’s Over.
What? Hear me out.
If I go hunting, and spend 2 days in the woods, the minute there is a kill – everything changes. It’s over. I’m no longer a hunter, I’m not a butcher, or a sure honest chef (let’s go with chef). The fun is in the anticipation. I honestly enjoy the post-process of skinning, butchering, boning, and bringing home the meat. Really I do. But that’s not hunting. That’s something further, and wonderful that is a part of it, but it’s not hunting. As soon as I kill, I have to start all over. I’ve been trying to embrace the hunt, the pursuit, the uncertainty and excitement of it all. It’s the chase that’s the most fun. I want to stall and embrace that experience rather than just wishing for it to be over so I can start again.
#3 – The Investment is the Same – So Make it Count.
It’s a lot of work, to not kill a deer.
I just got back from a weekend of hunting. There were 4 of us down at our hunting lease. We all showed up the same day, spent the same number of nights in cold old campers, woke up at the same ungodly hours, and humped our buts through the woods for the same amount of time. We all had rifles, gear, expenses, time away from loved ones, and camp food. The investment was almost the same for everyone, but we didn’t all kill deer. I don’t always bring home meat, but I want to make that investment count. I want to come home rejuvenated, inspired, and a little more woods-savvy.
I want meat, don’t get me wrong. But if a cooler full of ice and venison is the measure of how successful my hunting trips are – then I’m doomed. There is so much more to be gained from the hunt. Killing is just part of it. The investment is the same, and I want to make it count – whether that jerk of a cooler rides back home empty or full.