...it's everything your Grandpa should have told you.

Empty Coolers = Schoolyard Bullies

empty cooler

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!”

Ugh.

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.

 

 

 

Hunting is Exploring

topo map

How to Access the Adventure In every hunter’s heart is a thirst for adventure. I think it might be the thing that draws us to the hunt more than anything. In a world where true adventure is so far from the average man, it’s one of the woods’ … [Continue reading]

Hunting Optics 101

hunting binoculars

You have to see it before you can shoot it I remember sitting on the side of that canyon in Nebraska like it was yesterday. We’d crawled down the steep face adjacent to the canyon that morning, getting within 50 yards of a dandy mule deer buck … [Continue reading]

Bowhunting: The Learning Curve

bowhunting learning curve

Today's post is written by Will Jenkins of The Will to Hunt. Make sure to check out the info at the bottom of the post for more about Will, and to learn how to catch up with him around the web.  I always think of myself as a new bowhunter, but then … [Continue reading]

Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

choosing the right caliber for deer

How to pick the right Rifle or Bow for your Hunt? Imagine you’ve got a nail sticking up in your deck. It catches your shoe from time to time and you know it’s bound to earn someone a face plant – time to nail it back down. Which tool do you grab … [Continue reading]

Cut It Out! … With a Really Sharp Knife

Havalon Piranta Edge

Hopefully, you'll spend more time working your knife than your gun - get a good one. As hunters, we give a lot of attention to our primary weapon. We compare, search, discuss and divide over our preferred hunting weapons. The rifle we carry into … [Continue reading]

Get Out There, Stay Out There

Whiatetail Deer

The best hunters know how to push through Today's post is written by my friend Mark Kenyon from WiredToHunt.com. After a multi-year pursuit of a buck named Six Shooter, Mark knows a few things about pushing through as a hunter. I've asked him to … [Continue reading]

Choosing the Right Hunting Pack

TZ4

Don't Over-Gear Yourself When it comes to hunting gear, there’s a gadget for everything. We’ve got precision, high-tech gear to solve every hunting related need imaginable. It’s easy to watch commercials on hunting channels and convince … [Continue reading]

Save your Feet – Save your Hunt

Cabela's Hunting Boots

The hunter’s feet are his most used piece of gear, protect them! If you’ve learned anything from this week’s posts, I hope you’ve learned that gear matters. Quality equipment can mean the difference between a successful hunt and packing it in … [Continue reading]