And just like that, we are halfway through yet another hunting season. It never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies, whether it be with the ones you love or the activities you love. There is one thing for sure – you can’t get back time.
When you’re figuring out why you hunt, don’t be influenced by others. You don’t need to kill a 200" deer, and the only way to do that isn’t by hiking six miles off a trail, heading back where no one else is and then there they are. I mean, hiking is cool, but what if you walk past your buck-of-a-lifetime? I have a number of friends and family who love to get their general season buck tag. Then, tag or not, everyone loads up in the side-by-side and drives around to watch and help the tag holders harvest the first buck they see. It’s tradition for them. Their “why” for hunting may be different from yours, so instead of insulting them, be happy for them. They are doing what they have always done – spending time with their family and filling their tags.
I have enjoyed many hunts with my family where the number of inches wasn’t the outcome we had dreamed about. Two years ago, I shot a buck on the last day of a general season tag in Utah and had one of the best butchers around lined up to make some jerky. However, what was actually special about that hunt was that my niece was along with me. She had been on multiple trips around the dunes, but she was never able to be part of an actual harvest until that night when her dad and I both shot deer. We did not know how she would react, but she was right there with us the entire time, locating, shooting, and processing. She was thoroughly invested in the process. It brought us so much joy to be able to talk about management and why we harvest deer and to show by example how to properly break down the deer to get the best quality meat.
Another special hunt to me, which again did not result in inches on the wall, was the first hunt I ever took my daughter, Oaklee, on. It was a doe mitigation antelope hunt, and she was a mere 6 months old. As I write this, I sit here in disbelief that my baby girl is now 2 years old and my little man is 3 months old. Before I know it, they will be the ones with tags in hand and I will be able to enjoy this passion through another’s eyes.
Every year, it seems we hear more and more stories about how loved ones have grown out of this sport, whether it be from age or injury. Don’t hold your points. Go hunting and have fun. If the best of the best is all you’re after, that is a different conversation. I think for the majority of us, though, we need to sit back and remember why we do this. Tags get harder to draw, quality gets worse, and “it will never be as good as it once was,” so quit holding out for tags you may never draw. Apply for hunts where you can still achieve your realistic goal. Stop worrying about what tags you did or didn’t fill. Stop worrying about the inches on the wall. You can’t take them with you. What I encourage you to do with the remainder of your fall is to be in the moment. Find your why!