I’m tired, beaten and mentally broken; however, there is a bull chasing cows 1,000’ above me on the last day of my hunt. I grab my things and make the long two-hour trek to the top of the bench where the bull resides. With every step I take, doubt creeps into my mind. “Is this even worth it? Maybe, I should just call it a day and head home?” But, instead, I push and sooner or later I hear his voice erupts through the trees. The deep and guttural growl he emits leaves me awestruck for a moment, but still I push forward. We exchange words and I finally strike a chord in him. I’m in trouble now. Antlers sway through the trees in my direction, subtly bouncing with each step he takes. Not yet, does he know exactly where I am. My eyes dance down the shaft of my arrow and I come to full draw. “This is it,” I think. All of my hard work is about to pay off. Suddenly, I hear my wife in the background telling me to finish folding the laundry. “Damn, maybe next time.”
If this sounds familiar, we are cut from the same cloth, my friend. Each and every day that goes by I am thinking about hunting. It flows through me like the blood that flows through my veins. It is as natural in my everyday life as is eating or drinking. Either I am thinking about it or doing something in the name of it when I can. Some folks are wrench turners, some love football, I am a hunter, and that is that. It definitely isn’t everything though, and, from time to time, I struggle with that. Life goes beyond our rustic life in the hills.
As we make our way through the year, I think it is incredibly important to pay homage to both those around us and our overall priorities in life. Most of the time, we are leaving our families at home while we go on our adventures. They have to do without us, experience the worry of us being away and deal with the extra load of priorities around the home. When we are home, we need to truly be home. I get my “me time” many times throughout the year. It is only fair that I give “we time” to my wife and I. Making it a point to spend as much time together as possible and go on non-hunting vacations is huge for me. It isn’t fair if I am the only one going on vacation every year in the hills. Then, of course, there is work. When it is time to work, it is time to work. End of story.
Balance in the field is also important to me. As I said, hunting is a very “me, me” thing. Because of that, I think it is important to take time out of our own hunts and help others around us. For instance, bringing out a new hunter and educating them on our ways. That will go a long way in the future. You could be setting in motion a whole new generation of hunters by doing that. Got a big buck spotted? Let your buddy take this one. You stay back for a change and let him try to arrow that bruiser. You’ll get your time and I promise you that watching them go on that stalk will be just as exciting as doing it on your own. Me shaking behind the binos in anticipation of my friend sending an arrow is a common occurrence. Got little ones? Try bringing them out in the field with you—even if they aren’t hunting. The quality time they spend with you out there will mean the world to the both of you. My dad used to do this with me—even to the detriment of his own hunt. It was important to him to get me in the field. If it wasn’t for those sacrifices he made, I wouldn’t be writing this article.
I’m not trying to insult you at all, but it’s the truth and I fully acknowledge it. We are selfish as hunters. Hunting is a very “me, me” type of thing. We post photos of ourselves all over the internet with our harvests and our opinions on gear, etc. This happens to the point that we fight with one another over these matters. Our voice is beckoning to be heard and degrading one another isn’t out of the question sadly. We take time away from work, friends, and family to go and chase our passion. For many people, vacation time is often spent on hunting. Instead of going on a posh vacation with family, we head into the hills and live in the dirt for a week and, in order to do so, we spend a ton of money on the gear we want and need. Most of the time, we don’t even come home with more than a long story of “almosts.” More than a time or two, I’ve had people say to me, “Why do you even go out there? You didn’t even kill something.” Well, that’s hard to explain, right? Oftentimes, they might still be left wondering. Maybe, that very wonder will lead them into the field with you one day? Only then, can you truly show them.
As we head into yet another hunting season, I think it is important to keep these things above in mind. Now is the time to soak up that quality time at home or to fix that thing in the house you’ve been putting off for so long. Now is the time to take your wife on a nice getaway. If it weren’t for my significant other, I wouldn’t be able to go chase my dreams and live in the dirt. Family and friends are our biggest support system and the reason we get to spend so much time doing what we love. So, until hunting season (and even during), they deserve our full attention. Don’t worry. You’ll be in the field soon enough, chasing after that bull that has been getting in the way of you folding the laundry.