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JERROD LILE PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR HUNTIN’ FOOL CEO W ith 13 years of Nevada applications under my belt, I was prepared for another round of “unsuccessful” notices here on year 14. Instead, I received a text from a friend congratulating me on my Table Mountain Wilderness archery elk tag. The inevitable question that follows drawing a tag-of-a-lifetime is what type of trophy do you plan to hold out for? To answer the question, you have to understand the motivation behind holding out for a certain size, type, or age of animal you have a tag for. For some, I have no doubt that ego is the primary driver and harvesting a giant would satisfy the need to come out looking like a winner. For others, the satisfaction of matching wits with a mature animal is important, and for some, I’d argue that the hunt experience itself motivates them to be selective in order to prolong the hunt as much as possible. At an early age, I began passing up legal animals and my dad always jokingly referred to me as a “trophy hunter.” It took a lot of years for me to understand that I simply did not want my season to end. Now that I know this little nugget about myself, the possibility of a great tag like the one I’ve drawn this year makes me giddy with anticipation for the memories I’m about to make. 6 I can’t wait to spend as many nights as I can at 10,000+ feet under the dark skies of central Nevada, listening to coyotes yipping, elk bugling, and probably even a few thunderstorms. Setting a high standard for the type of bull I’m looking for is a great excuse to make the hunt last as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong, if the bull of my dreams gives me an opportunity on day one, I’ll plan on heading home early. However, if he doesn’t, the process of looking for him will be something I’ll cherish for years to come. In this age of social media and Insta- Fame, many hunters are suffering from self-induced pressure to produce big antlers year after year. Just a couple weeks ago, the host of the TV show Wildgame Nation pleaded guilty to egregious wildlife violations that were motivated by ego and greed. There has been an increasing rash of similar instances that have gone so far as to Photoshop stolen images from other hunters to manufacture false success in the field. In my experience, the more ego I can leave behind when I head into the field, the more likely I am to have a great time and stay in the moment on the mountain. By taking this approach, I know that the tag-of-a-lifetime that I have burning a hole in my pocket won’t go to waste, whether it ends up notched or not. ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME HUNTS PRODUCE MOMENTS LIKE THESE IF YOU LOOK FOR THEM LIFELONG HUNTING BUDDIES CELEBRATING SUCCESS OVER A CLIENT’S RAM Huntin’ Fool members have drawn an incredible number of “dream tags” this year. It’s my hope that these tags leave each of us with memories to last a lifetime, memories that are built around family, relationships, sunrises, sunsets, excitement, and that honest fatigue that only the mountains can give us. I’ll guarantee that keeping that in perspective on your hunts will result in a far better experience around every campfire you share this fall.