Deer hunting is a lifelong journey
If you're not willing to look stupid, you might not get to your striving destination.
By Eric Clark | PUBLISHED May 18th, 2022
In general, Deer hunting or hunting any game is a process in which you're constantly rediscovering more about yourself and the hunt. As a former Call of Duty player, it reminds me of when you'd prestige in the game. You'd level up by playing the game to unlock features, and to unlock more, you'd have to start back at zero and do it all over again. To get to the next level of hunting, you're almost starting at zero again in some scenarios.
Focus on Your Hunt
It's challenging to avoid trolls on social media in any category, let alone hunting. If we're to level up as hunters, it's imperative to focus on what's in our control. Some things are up to us, and some things are not. For example, in most cases, we can decide which weapon to use, which public land to hunt, and usually which days and times to hunt. What's not in our control are things like what weapons other hunters use, like a crossbow, if another hunter is in our desired spot, or if we get called into work the exact day we planned to hunt the rut.
Most people spend time on things that are not up to them rather than using their energy for things they can control. Every second you spend on something that's not up to you is time wasted on developing your hunting skills.
Put in the work
We've seen stories on social media of young kids and adult-onset hunters passing up on does and spike bucks that have literally never shot a deer. Often, they either want to mimic what they've seen on YouTube or TV or because they don't want to look stupid. If you're not willing to "shoot deer" or put in the work, how do you think those same hunters would do at full draw with a 150" buck in front of them? By executing and honing your hunting skills, you'll be confident when the opportunity arises to shoot that wall hanger! You have to start somewhere rather than hoping and wishing a 150" buck into fruition.
Hunting is a lifelong journey
Try not to focus on your progress and how far you've come. Focus instead on how far you have to go. This way of thinking will help prevent you from becoming arrogant and complacent. If it's a life-long pursuit, you can't afford to become arrogant and smug, as it will cloud your ability to learn through a clean lens.
As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shoreline of ignorance. As you get better at hunting, you should see all the things you still have left to get better at. Getting better starts with acceptance. Accepting being just okay as you try and experiment with new techniques, terrain, and equipment. You won't be able to make progress if you're blaming, fighting, or denying. The Stoics called this The art of Acquiescence — the giving up and the approving of whatever things are so that they can be what they are to become.
For example, you can try using "I don't have to do this; I get to do this." Hunting public land (and private land) certainly has its challenges. I don't have to hunt a 150" buck. I get to hunt. It changes the paradigm. Embrace all that hunting is and has to offer; love the process. Fortunately, setbacks happen. Use them to propel you forward.
Focus on what you can do today. Step by step, action by action, day by day. The little choices and actions are what can help you. Quantity is important but not as important as quality. When I first started hunting, I spent several years hunting in the same spot, in the same stand, etc. Although I don't regret that time, it wasn't the best way to level up and learn more. It wasn't until I deployed humility and started trying new things that I truly learned more and leveled up as a hunter. It was an Okayest Hunter mindset. I had to be okay with being okay and goofing up along the way, all while recognizing I'll never stop learning. Hunting is a lifelong pursuit, which means I'll always be just okay and happy with the results I achieve along the way.
Love the process, and stay okay!