By Sportsmen’s Alliance Faces of Hunters blogger, Andrea Haas
When some read the title of this article they are going to wonder how on earth hunting could be anything less than fun. I’m here to tell you that while I thoroughly enjoy hunting, there are times that it seems more like work to me. Nearly every deer season I come to a point where I get burnt out, disappointed, let down and discouraged, taking some of the enjoyment out of it. Does this make me less of a hunter? I don’t think it does. Surely there are other hunters out there who can relate.
At the beginning of deer season I’m always positive and have high hopes for what the season will bring. After studying trail cam pictures all summer and picking out which bucks to go after it’s hard to feel anything but happy and excited to get out in the woods. But after spending nearly every free day I have hunting, morning and evening, and either not seeing many deer, not having them in range, even the occasional mishap or miss, it starts to wear on my nerves a little and make me discouraged.
The reality is, that’s just hunting. It hardly ever goes the way you envisioned it and that’s what keeps it interesting. The past few deer seasons have by far been my hardest, but I have learned so much more than I would have if things would have just went the way I wanted them to from the start. I would like to share some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of keeping hunting fun that I have learned along the way. I’ll start with the “Don’ts”.
Compare yourself to other hunters. I am so guilty of doing this and it’s usually what starts getting me down in the first place. With social media at our fingertips we’ll see our friends, family members & outdoor celebrities post photos daily of the bucks or does they’ve harvested. It’s easy to get caught up in a pity party and think “Why can’t I get one too”? Just stop right there. Be happy for them and proud that they are enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and doing great things for conservation. Your time to harvest an animal will come too and hunting is certainly not a competition.
Put too much pressure on yourself. This is where hunting starts to feel like work and become less enjoyable. This is also where we may start to become less ethical, taking risky shots and pushing past our limits. We all want meat for the freezer and who doesn’t want the buck of a lifetime? Just remember what your limits are and don’t force a shot because you feel like you’re running out of time or that you HAVE to shoot one now.
Remember all of the other things you love about hunting. Remember, hunting isn’t about harvesting an animal each & every time you go out. The harvest is just an added bonus. What about watching the sunrises & sunsets? Or the time you saw a bald eagle soaring above your stand? Take it all in, relax, and enjoy the peace & quiet of being in the woods.
Go hunting with a friend, family member or significant other. Most of my deer season is spent hunting solo. I will hunt one stand and my husband will hunt in another, hoping that by spreading out among the property we will increase our odds of one of us shooting a deer. But as the season progresses we like to hunt together more often and enjoy each other’s company. This really helps make hunting enjoyable for me again after being so serious for most of the season.
Learn a new weapon or a new type of hunting. I feel adding some variety in will help break up the monotony when you’re feeling stuck in a rut. (No pun intended). For me, bird hunting is the ticket. It’s usually a more active hunt with many more shot opportunities. Research some other outdoor hobbies as well, like trapping, bow fishing, or sporting clays and give something new a try.
In conclusion, I feel it’s best to just roll with the punches. Although that’s easier said than done, the above tips have really helped me remember how enjoyable hunting really is. No deer season has ever went exactly the way I planned it, and that’s ok. Be content and be thankful that you even have the opportunity to go hunting in the first place! Learn from the “ups” and “downs” of the season and apply that knowledge to your next hunt. This will make you a better and happier hunter in the long run!
More About Andrea Haas: Besides contributing to the Sportsmen’s Alliance Faces of Hunters series, Andrea also runs a personal blog called Huntress View, a site dedicated to empowering women in the outdoors. You can follow Andrea on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.