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No time to hunt? The balance between the sacrifice and the reward

Hunting campsite under the stars

All photo credits: Josh Kirchner

Over the years, I have heard people say that they would rather have more hours in the day than more money. I take that as a bold statement because, like it or hate it, all of us need money. You can make always more money though. Once time has passed, there is no getting it back. The precious moments that we share with our loved ones or even on our own when afield are exactly that. These moments are irreplaceable and once they are gone, they are gone. All we are left with at that point is a memory. It's up to us to make them good ones. In relation to that, I've also heard another common phrase from people: they have "no time to hunt." While it is entirely possible that this is true for some, I think most of us have more time than we think on our hands.

Prioritizing your time

I get asked all of the time, "How do you get to hunt so much?" The easy answer to that question is that I choose to and make it work. It's all about prioritizing your time and money. We all have our things, right? Those things that we absolutely love to do and set us right again. Maybe your thing is football? You make sure that every single Sunday, you are sitting in front of the TV, in anticipation of another game. That's how my dad is. He loves his Sunday football and will rarely miss it willingly. I think that is great. A person needs passion in their life for something. Our passions keep us moving.

My passion is hunting and I prioritize my time in reflection of that. I'd rather spend my only day off hiking with my wife through the wilderness and scouting rather than sitting on the couch and watching TV, recouping from the work week. Instead of having an $800 truck payment, I spend my money on gear, gas and tags. I have literally driven two hours from home right after work just to hunt for an hour. If it weren't for a juniper tree, I would have shot a beautiful mule deer in velvet on that trip. We make a lot of excuses for not doing things. But, when it comes down to it, if you want to be in the field, you'll make it happen.

Be efficient

Glassing for that next hunting opportunity

A lot of us have very busy schedules and sometimes it can feel like we are trying to fit 10 gallons of water in a baseball cap. Because of our hustle and bustle lives, we need to make sure that when we do get to head into the field, we are as efficient as possible. The best way that I have found to do this—especially with scouting—is to have a plan in place. Have a general idea of what you are going to do before you do it. Are you going to spend your time glassing? If so, have a few pre-planned glassing knobs to hit. Looking for water? Try to plan out a route via topo map ahead of time. Are you planning to sit water all day? Make sure you are there before the sun comes up and leave after it goes down in order to maximize your hunting time. Hunting is a very go with the flow activity, but if you are crunched for time, having at least a loose plan is crucial in my opinion.

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It's very easy to fall into that "chicken with your head cut off" mentality. Avoid that by being as productive as you can. If you absolutely cannot spend any time physically scouting before your hunt, spend some time on the device you are reading this article on. Whether it's your phone, computer or tablet, you can do quite a bit of research using Google Earth and goHUNT's INSIDER research tools that will all aid you in your pursuit. Time can get away from me in a hurry if I've got a topo map in front of me. I'll spend hours staring holes into these things. So, when I get into an area, it almost feels like I've already been there.

The sacrifice and the reward

Back view of Arizona OTC mule deer antlers

I have found that the more I put into something, the more I will get out of it. Remember earlier when I said, "If you want to be in the field, you'll make it happen"? You need to ask yourself how badly do you want to be out there and take action accordingly. For some, they are perfectly fine heading out once a year to deer camp. Not me. If you are anything like me and hunting runs through your veins, this next part will probably be familiar to you. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times my alarm has gone off around 1:00 a.m. so that I could make it to a trailhead on time and hunt for a few hours before my obligations that day.

Josh Kirchner quote on making more time for hunting

Instead of going out to eat all of the time or buying new clothes regularly, I will stash money away for hunting trips and gear. I wear Levi's and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As much as I'd love to have some big gnarly tricked out lifted truck with all of the bells and whistles, it doesn't make sense to me to spend that money there when I could put it into my passion. I will bust my tail all week at work (I am a roofer) and even work longer days so that I can have an extra day off at the end of the week. To relax? No, so that I can be in the mountains busting my tail there instead. When the day comes that I have little ones running around, you can bet your boots that they will be out in the mountains with mom and dad. There is no rest for those with that passion.

What time is it?

Hiking to the next hunting location

Many folks out there are guilty of using the "I don't have the time" excuse as a crutch to get out of actually doing things. I used to be the person that said that I didn't have the time to hunt. Looking back on that, I know that it was a way for me to avoid changing my habits. I had the time; I just didn't want to make the time. Annual deer camp was the norm for me and that was it. While the idea of being in the field more was appealing to me, I never chased it. A lot of people like the idea of doing things, but most never make those ideas a reality. With a little elbow grease and forethought, you can bring these thoughts to life. As you dip your toes in farther and farther, you will quickly start figuring out how to make more time for the things you love. That doesn't just include hunting. Do you want to make more time for your wife? Make it happen. More time with your kids? Make it happen. Do you want to live your dreams out in the mountains? Then, make it happen.

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21 Comments

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Josh K. - posted 8 months ago on 03-12-2019 11:21:03 am
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@Darin C.

Thanks Darin! Good luck this season!

darincall10
Darin C. - posted 8 months ago on 03-10-2019 02:34:20 pm
Spanish Fork, UT
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Great article. Just the kick in the pants I've been needing.

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:13:15 am
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@Benjamin H.

Planting the seed! Best of luck out there Benjamin!

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:12:30 am
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@Brandon N.

That must have been amazing! There really is nothing like bugling bulls in September and to share it with your youngster, that must have been absolutely priceless. Sounds he's hooked! Way to get him out there.

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:10:23 am
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@Nick J.

That is so cool Nick! Congrats to your little one on the bull and enjoy the memories to come!

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:08:43 am
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@Matthew M.

You're killing it bud! I think the elk are in trouble! Good luck!

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:07:17 am
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@Mark A.

I've been there man. Good on ya for getting out there and chasing down your goals. Love hearing that stuff as it's so inspiring. Congrats on your elk and lope!

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:05:58 am
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@Sean B.

Congratulations man! That is so awesome you two have your first born on the way! Future hunting buddy! Really appreciate the kind words about the article. Thanks and good luck in Ohio!

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:03:26 am
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@Seth D.

That's a bummer that Germany doesn't allow kids that young to hunt with their parents. Good on ya for wanting to get them into it back here in the states. Sounds like you've got a great 2019 planned! Good luck with the Coues! They are some of my favorite!

Josh K. - posted 9 months ago on 01-16-2019 09:00:51 am
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@Joseph T.

Thanks man! That is so awesome that you got out there last year that much. Best of luck to you in 2019!

Eric Hardester_10154334241172157
Eric H. - posted 9 months ago on 01-14-2019 11:13:10 am
Gilbert, AZ
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@Mark A. I can understand that completely. I set a personal rule that I was not ever going to hunt by myself when I first started. I can't find anybody as driven/motivated as I am to get out and push hard for hunting, so the "hunt by myself" rule is now more of a suggestion. If I wait for schedules, motivations, desires, and effort to align, I'll probably only hunt once a year :).

Benjamin H. - posted 10 months ago on 01-13-2019 06:25:22 pm
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I started taking my two oldest kids hunting last year (just to watch) and both got to see me tag something. They still talk about it all the time and the memories will be cherished for the rest of their lives.

Brandon N. - posted 10 months ago on 01-12-2019 04:44:36 pm
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I have never hunted prior to this year and to call in my first heard bull with my 10yr old son 7miles back was priceless, the monster came in screaming. I had never heard bulls bugle till that year and to share that experience with my son it is one he will never forget. I hunted Arizona solo after that hunt and saw many bulls was not near the same experience without him I truely feel sorry for the dads who leave their kids behind. My boys talk about it everyday, to all those reluctant parents out there please take your kids out they will love it!!

Nick J. - posted 10 months ago on 01-11-2019 07:49:20 pm
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My oldest started at 3, my youngest at 3. Yup you aint going pope and young, but if that's your only goal in life your goals suck. Now I have 13 yr old and 8 yr old. The 13 yr old wacked a 6x6 on a Utah open bull unit. That is what its all about. "I have kids" just means your priorities are jacked. "I get to hunt with kids" is what it is all about.

MATTHEW M. - posted 10 months ago on 01-11-2019 07:29:08 pm
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I fully agree with the mentality that if you want something bad enough you will make it happen. That's why by 25 I was an eagle scout, CPA passing all parts on my first try, had hunted out west 5 times and had hunted Africa. This year at 26 I finally found a job and moved out to wyoming after looking for a job for two years. Now I've set my sights on finally getting an elk, so if it's like those other goals I had look out elk.

Mark A. - posted 10 months ago on 01-11-2019 10:42:32 am
Lake Villa IL
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For people reading this article and have kids I would recommend Arizonia and Wyoming point building. I could care less who has the tag and these states make it possible and cheap to bring a young hunter. Your wife mighr even approve.

Mark A. - posted 10 months ago on 01-11-2019 10:38:39 am
Lake Villa IL
goHUNT INSIDER

Great article. I got so fustrated with my hunting buddies after a failed Colorado elk hunt. I drove to Wyoming by myself and killed my first elk and antelope on my own. People thought I was crazy for sleeping in my trailer and driving there from Illinois by myself. Point being its out there you just need to want it more than the other guy. Same with time. Its there if you want it you'll find it.

SETH D. - posted 10 months ago on 01-11-2019 09:15:41 am
Sunny New Mexico
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@ Sean B. Having kids is a treasure, but damn if it doesn't kill hunting time. We got married late in life, and have 3 kids from 3-7. Between the financial disaster of kids, minivans, and everything else you have to fight to retain some ability to hunt. I commend you if you can pull it off.

Word to the wise. Be there for the birth, even if it means missing a hunting a season or two.

Sean B. - posted 10 months ago on 01-11-2019 06:40:12 am
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I agree with all of this. It certainly gets more difficult and tricky the older you get because the responsibilities seem to keep piling up. You get married, buy a house, have kids, or whatever else happens in life, they all require some level of time and it's always more, never less. Being strategic with what I sacrifice is huge and having that plan really does pay out in the end.
I'm very lucky that my wife fully supports me and my choices with my time. She often gets the short end of the stick in May and from September through mid-December and many times during the rest of the year while I'm preparing. I just make sure she gets the long end of the stick enough of the other times to make sure she feels important! This year my September elk trip won't happen because we'll have a newborn (our first), but even with it only being January, I'm making sacrifices to make sure my late-October deer trip to Ohio still happens. Next year things will get back to normal hopefully.
This is a great article. There certainly are a lot of ways you can make things happen if you want it bad enough.

SETH D. - posted 10 months ago on 01-10-2019 10:56:26 pm
Sunny New Mexico
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I am a father of 3 very young girls, my wife doesn't hunt but she understands it is my thing. We are currently in Europe, I have hunted 4 times this year, and shot 2 roe bucks. Every aspect of that time away there is an inner turmoil, as you know you are taking away family time. German law does not allow children that young to hunt with their parents. My 7 year old is interested, and I hope our move back to the states will spur that hunting passion in her.

I am also a retired military guy who works full time for the government . So for the 20 years I was in the military I didn't have time to hunt as much as I should have because of deployments overseas during hunting seasons.

If you are single and thinking "here is this nice girl, or here is this nice guy" but they don't hunt, or worse they don't understand why you would want to be gone all the time. Lots of fish in the sea, keep casting.

2019, I have enough points to hunt antelope in Wyoming, Coues and Javelina in Arizona, and I am going to apply for Coues and Javelina in New Mexico. I am going to do a bunch of stuff in West Texas outfitted.

pickgsus
Joseph T. - posted 10 months ago on 01-10-2019 08:46:46 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT INSIDER

Great article Josh, I really put the ideas in this article to work in 2018. Last year was the most I've hunted in one year and I loved every freezing night and heavy pack step I took. I am looking forward to 2019 and to continue to build on these ideas.