September is here. The time to prepare is over. It is time to hunt.
This time next week I will be miles-deep in the Colorado mountains. There’s no time left to tune my bow any more; I can’t dial-in my shooting skills; I can’t scout new areas; I can’t study more about elk behavior. These things are for the now-expired offseason.
But there is one thing I can do. No, one thing I must do, and that’s keep my head in the hunt.
What could these silly stickers possibly have to do with keeping my head in the hunt?
Read on and find out!
Preparing your mind for hunting is an often over-looked, and massively under-valued endeavour. If I am going to effectively hunt for a week-straight, and endure all of the wildness that the wilderness has to throw at me, then I must do these five things…
(Oh, and you whitetail guys – much of this applies to those long days and long weeks that are spent waiting in a tree for your chance, too.)
Work Your Plan (When You Can)
Keep your head in the hunt by working your plan, and letting your plan dictate what actions you take. (You do have a plan, right?) Remember the intel you’ve put together, the places you’ve scouted, and the strategies you’ve studied. Don’t lose sight of these things.
But you also must realize that things won’t go as planned! You need to be ready to adapt. When the sign isn’t what you expected to see, don’t lose your focus. When the bulls aren’t as vocal as you wanted, don’t lose hope. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, roll with the thunder.
Remember your plan. Realize that things never go 100% according to plan. And keep your head in the game at all times.
Embrace The Suck
If you’re hunting long enough and hard enough, something’s going to suck. You’ll face challenges that you didn’t see coming, but don’t let it rattle you. I know this sounds incredibly cliche and probably borders on macho, meathead, masochist drivel, but – remember that experiencing pain means you are living.
You’re out there, in the wild, doing something that few others do. And part of it is going to suck. But you’re living. You’re doing. Embrace the suck, stay focused, and keep going.
Remember the Grind
Remember the grind back home? Your 9-5. The bills and demands. The time that you spend caring for and providing for others. Remember all of that, and be grateful for this moment, this time that you have to escape the grind of everyday living.
Whether it’s a weeklong hunt or a 3-hour sit in a treestand, be fully present in the hunt and enjoy your time. Go back home a better man (or woman) because of the chance that you had to escape. The grind will still be there when you return, so don’t worry about it while you’re hunting.
Speaking of being fully present, take a look around. You’re in a magical place. Immerse yourself in your surroundings. See the small details, heart the faint noises, smell the mountain air. Not only will this help you appreciate the setting, but you’ll actually be heightening your senses and increasing your ability to be alert to the game that you’re hunting. Allow me to paraphrase Remi Warren,
“I believe in hunting trophy country as much as I do hunting trophy animals.”
Look around. It’s amazing out there.
Fleeting Moment, Forever Memory
It doesn’t matter how much action you’ve experienced on a hunt, and if it is day 1 or day 10, it only takes a split-second moment for your hunt to turn into a memory that lasts forever. Mr. Big can show up anywhere, at any time, and that’s the real reason that you must always keep your head in the hunt.
Always be ready. Never give up. Keep moving forward. The next moment could be your best memory.
So, those stickers in the photo. I had my daughter (5) and son (2) each pick out a sticker to put on my bow. They’re on the backside of my quiver, positioned where they’ll constantly be in view if I’m carrying or shooting my bow.
I fully expected my daughter to pick out a princess sticker and my son to pick out a ninja, but they both chose silly, happy faces. They’re good reminders to not be too serious, to do what we’ve discussed and enjoy the hunt. But more than anything they are reminders for me to be grateful. They remind me how happy we should be. That in spite of life’s challenges and difficulties, most of us are incredibly blessed.
Keep your head in the hunt by being grateful. This moment, this opportunity, and what you’ll return home to; it isn’t all challenge, difficulties, and “grind”. It’s good.
That should make you want to stay focused, keep moving forward, and hunt hard.
I’m signing off for a couple weeks to go practice what I’ve preached…