One of the great things about working at Huntin’ Fool is the opportunity to work with our members to put together a game plan for an upcoming hunt. Determining when, where, or how to hunt within a given unit is typically the main focus of these conversations. Whether or not we’ve personally hunted a given unit, we do our best to provide the best information we can about your hunt. When possible, we’ll even provide locations where we’ve had past success on our own hunts.
However, all too often, even the best laid plans don’t pan out. More than one September, I’ve shown up to an elk spot that was on fire the year before to be met with the sound of crickets rather than bugles. All that it takes is a new lead cow to take over a herd, a new logging operation, or a pack of wolves moving into an area to completely change where the elk will be. All of the planning and effort put in to preparing the perfect plan is suddenly useless. It happens, and it happens a lot. And for some, it can derail a hunt as soon as it begins. Controlling your negative emotions in these situations is key to the outcome of your hunt.
I’m not trying to disregard the importance of researching an upcoming hunt and putting together a solid game plan, rather I want to highlight the importance of mental determination and resiliency. Keeping a positive and optimistic attitude is no small feat when faced with a multitude of adversities. Missed shots and opportunities, adverse weather conditions, difficulty in turning up game, or more hunting pressure than expected are all things we can contend with on a hunt.
In my opinion, a never say die attitude is far more important than having the perfect game plan going into a hunt. Simply put, effort put forth and time spent in the field is the ultimate recipe for success. Time spent in the field cultivates opportunity and often trumps even the best put together game plan. There is no stronger driver that will keep you in the field longer and hunting harder than by doing so with an optimistic attitude. Hunting with an optimistic attitude doesn’t only keep us in the field longer, it makes us better hunters. It fuels the will to check out that next ridge or be more thorough in our glassing. It keeps us more alert and more effective on a stalk. For example, if you aren’t convinced you’re going to accomplish a sneak, then you don’t mind stepping on a twig here or there along the way. It was probably never going to work anyway.
I’ve spoken with and spent time in the field with a wide array of hunters over the years. The common theme in most tags being filled usually boils down to the same thing – good old-fashioned will. Hunting with mental toughness will overcome physical limitations along with any adversities you will be dealt, and it will keep you in the field longer. The mind is a powerful thing, so don’t let it get you. Stick with it and hunt with the mindset that success is coming. It might not be how or where you had planned, but if you stick with it, it will happen. It’s supposed to be hard sometimes, and that’s what makes it so gratifying when it finally all comes together. Just keep after it, and when the time is right, it’ll happen. There is no substitute for will. Whether or not you will be notching your tag on a hunt this fall will mostly boil down to one factor – how bad do you want it?