There is No Such Thing as a Wasted Hunt

Time in the deer woods is never wasted 

By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED October 24th, 2022 

I’ve made many long walks back to the truck after an unsuccessful hunt. Most of them were spent kicking myself, questioning my judgment, or better yet, questioning my credibility as a hunter. In the earlier days of my hunting career, I viewed all of those fruitless hours in a treestand as time wasted, but in all reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

There is no such thing as time wasted when it comes to hunting. So what, you haven’t seen a deer in three hunts? So what, you missed a big buck with your bow? You could argue that these are unfortunate circumstances and I would agree, but you still won’t convince me that your time was “wasted.” I’ll even argue that it’ll just sweeten the payoff in the end. Here is why there is no such thing as a wasted hunt: 

Ruling Out and Ruling In are Equally Valuable in Hunting 

It took me a long time to learn this lesson as a deer hunter. Ruling out an area, a stand, or a specific situation is valuable and will keep you from hunting lower odds places in the future. How do you get to rule out an area? By hunting it and determining that it is indeed not worth coming back. I do this all the time. 

We all want to walk into a new hunting area and find tons of deer sign, sit in your stand, and see twenty deer. How often does that happen? To me it happens very seldom. Yes I have been fortunate to “rule in” some spots in my time but I promise that the time I’ve spent ruling out far outweighs the other. Some might see hunting a new area for a couple days and not seeing any deer as a waste of time. I see it as ruling out an option and a chance to move on to greener pastures. 

You Learn Something Every Time You Step Foot in the Woods

If you are an avid hunter, I will guarantee that you have learned a ton while hunting. I’ll also guarantee that you are not done learning either. Every hunt I go on I learn something new. Sometimes this is intentional but most of the time it is not. 

It is impossible to waste time when that time is spent learning something new. You didn’t see any deer, but maybe you learned why the deer don’t use the area. You alerted deer to your presence, but now you know how to play the wind. There is always a lesson to be had. We all love to learn the lesson brought on by successful hunts, but how many of us will have the attitude to learn in moments of failure? 

All of the Hardships Increase the Reward

Hunting is full of hardship and there are two ways you can respond to it, shut down and give up or stick with it. As hunters, we know that sticking to it through thick and thin will make the reward so much sweeter. The trials and tribulations are only considered wasted time if you give up, but if you don’t give up you will often be rewarded for your efforts. 

Like the great Shaquille O’neal always says, “In order to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” There will be tough times and tough hunts along the way but that is all vital to your eventual success. You’ll never reap the rewards if you don’t stick it out through the tough times. Time is only wasted if you don’t give it your best shot. 

Being Outside and Enjoying Creation is Never a Waste of Time

I feel like it would be an injustice to consider any time spent in God’s amazing creation as a waste of time. Breathing in the fresh air, marveling at unique landscapes, and getting to intimately know some of Earth’s most amazing creatures are all benefits of being outside. Does any of that sound like a waste of time? 

As hunters, we get to partake in and see some of the most breathtaking sights, whether it’s just out your back door in the Midwest or the vast wilderness of Alaska. We will get to see things and experience things that those who don’t hunt ever will. In my opinion, just being outside is never a waste of time and any time I get to spend in a tree (for better or for worse) is well worth it.

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