I hear many hunters get frustrated that they ‘aren’t seeing’ any game, ‘missed a shot,’ or the many other colorful ways that are used to describe their perceived hunting season lack of success. I think perception is the key element here.
I understand many are forced by obligation to push hunting time further and further down the list of priorities. Which, is a completely respectful thing to do, each person knows their priorities and what they need to do to keep balance in their lives. So, when the opportunity arises to be able to go hunting it can be rather disappointing when the opportunity to harvest game doesn’t present itself. I, myself, was faced with a very different set of opportunities last whitetail season and was not able to visit my hunting ground as often as I had in previous years which eventually meant my hunting story was not the one I had in my mind’s eye. This spring, turkey season presented many opportunities to go hunting, but one missed opportunity after the next meant I didn’t harvest any birds until the last 9 days of the season, although I was out there every chance I got. But, I eventually made the most of what I was presented with and you can bet I have some great stories from both seasons. But, again, perception is key.
So, back to the getting the most out of your hunting license, what does this mean? You filled all your tags? That would be a great bonus in any hunter’s season! But try thinking about it this way: filling all your opportunities.
For many of us, if we got a chance to sit down with a fellow hunter over a cup of our favorite something, we wouldn’t immediately go to our phone to show harvest pictures (don’t get me wrong, I love those great smiles!), but I bet your shared experiences would include tales of times with past family members, that time you introduced a young hunter to the sport, or some great experience you had during a moment in time when you got to share the beauty of God’s creation.
See, sometimes we forget that not harvesting an animal, or harvesting an animal late in the season, even on the last day meant that we got the most out of our hunting license. It isn’t just a license to harvest an animal, it’s also a license that allow us outdoor men and women uninterrupted, quality time alone with ourselves and Mother Nature. To me, it isn’t always the meat I put in the freezer, or a mount on my wall, some of my greatest pleasures are the moments I got to step away from my daily grind and just be. Just be me, alone with my thoughts, the elements, the wonderful and wild outdoors. To me, that is getting the full use of my hunting license.
So, next time you get that perfect, clear morning opportunity to sit beneath an oak tree, quietly watching four hens feed on worms and bugs rising up out of the warming spring soil, with a light, fresh breeze ruffling your head net and stirring the grass your sitting in, think about how valuable that little tag in your pocket is. And more importantly, store that away for a chance to exchange the retelling of that hunt for the retelling of someone else’s great hunt. Especially if you and I ever get a chance to sit down together, I want to hear all about it!