Since I started hunting on my own at around age 16, I can’t think of the number of times I wish I knew then what I know now. As a young hunter, I would always think, “This is my only chance!” and would do everything I could to try and kill that animal, and 90% of the time, I would screw it up. Even now, 15 years later, I still find myself in scenarios where I regret the decision I just made and wish I would have been more strategic about my plan. One thing I have found over the years is that you typically have more time than you think when you are making your final move, but there is a time to “let things happen” and a time to “make things happen.” A lot of times when the situation is about to unfold, I think I need to “make things happen” when in reality I need to “let things happen.”
Listening to all types of hunting stories over the years, I have noticed a lot of times we as hunters think the opportunity in front of us is the only one we will get when in reality it’s likely not. Whether you are rifle hunting or archery hunting, I think a lot of times we talk ourselves into making poor decisions under pressure. Since I have started to relax more on hunts and let things unfold naturally, I have found that 70% of the time the scenario unfolds better than I could have imagined.
Where I have really started to notice that I typically have more time than I think is when I am on hunts where I am holding out for something special and not just wanting to kill an animal. The spike/cow archery elk hunting in Utah on an over- the-counter tag has been a great proving ground for this. Since these hunts are low stress and I do not feel the pressure of wanting to kill a big bull, I typically do not feel the need to “make things happen,” which makes it easier to “let things happen.” I have stalked multiple “big bulls” on these hunts, even though I could not kill them. It is fun to test your stalking skill to see how close you can get. In doing this, I will think, “What if I had a tag for this bull? What would I do, or when would I shoot?” I often find that by just letting things happen or taking more time on the stalk, I end up getting much closer than I would have thought.
These scenarios along with talking to other experienced hunters over the years have taught me things that have helped me become a more successful hunter. Once you start to realize you have more time than you think, the hunt becomes more enjoyable and you will be amazed at how most opportunities unfold in the mountains. It was hard to get into this mindset, but once I started to see the effect it had on my success, it made it easier to relax more and enjoy the hunt.