“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”
– Louis Pasteur
Every hunting season starts with optimism. On opening day it doesn’t matter if I see deer or not, it just feels good to be in the woods. I enjoy the way that the sun raises from darkness on a morning hunt, and how it falls once again into night’s sky at the end of an evening hunt. I appreciate the stillness and silence of nature. The birds. The squirrels. The slowly falling leaves.
Nothing happens…and still, I am happy.
But now? Oh, now things have changed. Yes, I still enjoy nature, silence, and wild places, but now I am not so care free. Now I am on a mission. I am hungry. I am eager to strike.
This season has not gone as I had hoped. I haven’t seen the number of deer, or the quality of deer that I have hoped for. I have had plenty of opportunities to harvest young bucks, and though I am not trophy hunting, I still want to take a mature deer if possible, so I passed.
The season has, thus far, left me frustrated. Take this past weekend for example…
A cold front was moving through on Friday, causing a 40 degree drop in temperatures that should have put deer activity through the roof for the weekend.
My buddy John and I had an awesome day planned for Saturday. We were going to arrive at a remote trailhead at dark, hike 1.5 miles in by headlamp, and then spend all day chasing whitetail and scouting some spots for the upcoming rifle season.
Well, we arrived. And we hiked. And we did get after a few deer. But after the morning passed, everything went downhill. The sign that we expected to see was non-existent. The solitude that we expected to have was wrecked. The spots that we anticipated hunting were ruined by disturbances. (Why in the world were some crazy rednecks running dogs in this place? I’ve never seen a soul on my previous four visits to this area!)
No matter how great of a spot, or “honey hole” you think you have found, hunting public land will always throw you a curve ball.
Saturday was 17 hours of driving, hiking, and hunting and the only thing we were bringing home was the unfortunate realization that this property wasn’t what we hoped it would be.
But as I crawled in to bed late on Saturday night, physically and mentally drained, I had the thought…
“There is always tomorrow.”
Sunday was supposed to be another full day of hunting, but two sick kids kept me home until the afternoon. The morning conditions would have been perfect and my trail camera showed me that it was a morning full of activity, but of course the conditions for the evening hunt were less than ideal. Strong, shifty winds howled throughout the hunt, save the last 15 minutes before dark. It was then that I heard two bucks come together and spar with one another for several minutes. They were so close, but of course, too far away.
Once again I thought to myself, “Well, there is always tomorrow.”
I’m tired, restless, frustrated, and doubtful. But I also know that the season is far from over. I know that great things can happen if I just keep at it.
Those bucks sparring at sunset were a reminder. Don’t be frustrated. Don’t be down. Don’t lose hope.
As far as the hunting season goes, the best is yet to come!
There is always tomorrow…