Spend enough hours in nature, and you will undoubtedly experience some remarkable moments. A hawk diving for prey, raccoons scurrying across an open field, 2 mature whitetail bucks locking antlers in a match for dominance; these are just a few of the millions of sights that can enhance the experience of deer hunting.
Deer season has come and gone, bringing forth for some the humbling reality of an unused tag. First the first time in a long time, I fall into the category of "unsuccessful" buck hunters. Yet, I can not add up all my successes.
Sure, I sent an arrow over the back of a bruiser most would consider the buck of a lifetime, and left tags unfilled in Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana. My wife will tell you, I spent nearly a thousand-dollars on deer tags and killed 1 doe. That makes for some expensive steaks.
But what I took from the woods can not be measured. How do you put a price tag on an owl resting twenty yards away, or ducks dancing upon the water? This time of year, I feel so simple, so refreshed from my time sitting in a tree. I'm almost envious of my brother bear enjoying couple months of slumber in his den. I'd love to have more time to just sit and reflect.
I have a milestone approaching rapidly. Before the end of the month, I will be thirty-years old. I know many of you still consider me a pup, but I feel like I'm starting to see things a little differently. I remember watching the sun set on the final day of a deer season many years ago. I'm not sure why this final sit stands out to me more than the rest, but for some reason I can still see myself sitting atop the old wooden ladder stand, pouting away the last few minutes of my "unsuccessful" season. I remember making vows about how this wouldn't happen again. How the following year would be different.
The evolution of a hunter is said to go through 5 stages: shooting, limiting out, trophy, method, & sportsman. I believe this to be true. Not to say that one stage can not overlap the other, but if you examine your own reasoning for going to the woods as a hunter, I believe you will find you fall into one of these categories. Some people skip levels, but most experience the journey through the stages in approximate order.
Take a quick trip back over the past couple of months. What sticks out to you? What were the highlights? What are your trophies from the time you spent? Write these down and remember that hunting is about the entire experience. When someone asks you "what you got this year," tell them you got to see a blue heron eat a fish or a squirrel leap an incredible expanse.
Whatever your reason for deer hunting, as long as you partake ethically and morally, it's impossible not to have a successful season.