I had such high hopes for this hunting season. At this point in time I expected to have over 200lbs of elk meat in my freezer, and maybe some whitetail venison, too. But all that’s in my freezer right now is one venison roast from last year’s deer. That’s pathetic.
But you know what? I’m not that bummed. Did I want my elk hunts to turn out differently? Of course! Did I think that I would come home empty-handed? Of course not! But I didn’t “deserve” success just because I prepared well and hunted hard.
That’s the thing about hunting – you can do everything “right” and still not get what you’re after. On the other hand, sometimes you stumble into luck, even though you messed up somehow.
A lot of hunters that take hunting way too seriously. We don’t just hunt, we are hunters. Hunting is not our hobby, it’s our identity. We ascribe to sayings like, “Born to hunt” or “Bowhunt or die”. But think about it – that’s just stupid. You are far more than the bucks and bulls that you have, or haven’t, killed. Far more!
I get what an all-consuming passion hunting can be. (As evidenced by all of the time, thought, and effort that I put into writing about hunting.) I get that hunters are a different breed. But in the end, you have to remember that hunting is still an add-on to life.
In the last couple of weeks I have hunted over 40 hours for whitetail, and I’ve seen one deer. One. In November! On my last hunt I spent over 12 hours in the treestand, suffering through below-freezing temperatures, and shaking in 25mph winds. I didn’t even see a deer. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best mood when I called my wife to let her know I was on the way home.
But as soon as I hung up, I realized there’s nothing to complain about. I got to spend all day in the woods. I got to watch the sun rise from the east, circle to the south, and fall into the west. I got to spend time in the peace and quiet of nature. I got to read, and think, and pray. I got to drive home safely, open the door, and be greeted by my wife and kids. I got to sit in the comfort of a house that has electricity, and heat, and love. I got to eat warm potato and bacon soup that my wife made for me, from food that she bought at a store, with money that I earned at an amazing job.
This fall I’ve gotten to travel east and west, to visit and hunt amazing places. I’ve climbed mountains, slept under the stars, and lived without the distractions of everyday life. I didn’t kill an elk, but I left a piece of my soul in the wild, and brought home the essence of the wild in my heart.
I could complain about what could have been, but that would just be a waste of time.
My freezer may be empty, but my life is incredibly full.