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