In 1803 the United States acquired over 828,000 square miles of pristine wilderness at less than 5 cents per acre. This acquisition, which included some of the most breathtaking landscape in the United States, became known as the Louisiana Purchase.
One year later Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark began a perilous two-year expedition, which would provide not only a scientific discovery, but a detailed description of this newly acquired territory as well.
The monumental discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition gave us glimpses into the backcountry of Montana, Idaho and what we know as modern day Yellowstone. But in light of their high-risk adventure, it’s only fair to ask ourselves: Why would these two men would risk their lives to lead an expedition into the unknown?
While we don’t know positively, might one reason be because Lewis and Clark refused to take yes for an answer?
Some may wonder what correlations can be drawn between the early development of our United States and hunting—the answer is—several. For whether mapping a route to the Western half of the United States or planning for the upcoming hunting season, true success comes from approaching every situation or circumstance with humble curiosity.
Recently, while looking through some Outdoor Life magazines from the 1960’s, I was awakened to this fact: Today’s hunters have it easy. Because we stand on the shoulders of the past, we can take from what others have learned, without possessing any personal experience gained from either success or failure.
The modern hunter needs nothing, our homework has been completed for us. We have the luxury of reaping from the experiences of those who have gone before us, and thankfully so. Whether it’s bowhunting whitetail, pursuing Dall sheep or hunting the mighty Wapati, much of our knowledge has been handed down to us—by those who learned the hard way.
Today there are outdoor gadgets galore and just as many marketeers whose job it its to seduce us into believing we’ll be a better hunter if we own the latest or most technologically advanced hunting gear. We have access to TV programming, which can take us hunting around the world without leaving the comforts of our couch. We are afforded modern conveniences, such as the trail camera, which allow us to ‘see’ deer we didn’t actually see with our own two eyes. And don’t forget Google search, hundreds of hunting websites and dozens of outdoor blogs, which assist in answering almost any question at the stroke of a keyboard.
Gone are the days when you had to experience it, before you could know something about it.
Due to the vast amount of information made available to us, modern hunters have a dilemma, a juxtaposition that forces us to assume rather than experience. On the one hand we are rich because of our heritage, on the other hand we are inexcusably poor—but there’s no reason to stay that way.
Learn Like They Did
April 15, 1452 marks the birthday of one of the most curious and creative minds in history. Possessing an imagination unparalleled in his time, Leonardo da Vinci dreamed of: A flying machine, a bicycle, an adjustable monkey wrench, hydraulic jack, a parachute (before the phenomenon of flight) and even a water-powered alarm clock. It is estimated da Vinci left some fourteen thousand pages of notes, which were the sum of his lifelong endeavor to know and to experience as much as he possibly could. Is it any wonder when Michael J. Gelb wrote How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, that he described Leonardo da Vinci by simply stating, “He wouldn’t take yes for an answer.”
I recently met an individual who purchased a bow in hopes to try their hand at archery. Unfortunately, they purchased the bow some time ago, and still haven’t shot it. And why haven’t they nocked an arrow and at least tried? Because they are scared something will go wrong. Even though they spent countless hours researching what bow to buy and why, they are scared to cross over the chasm of fear and experience the release of an arrow for the very first time.
Can we move beyond this type of trepidation? Yes, when we judge a successful outcome based around the experience, good or bad, and what we learn from it, the set boundaries that tend to define failure are removed. In the past authors, explorers and hunters lived wanting to add to their current roster of things experienced. Even Einstein said, “I have no special gift, I am only passionately curious.” When we live to experience—failure is redefined.
So to the man or woman who’s never shot a bow before—go do it. To the hunter who’s never planted a food plot before—go for it. To the hunter wanting to pursue a new species of animal but doesn’t know where to begin—do your best and let experience be your teacher. To the one who’s scared to write their first hunting article—write it. To the shy hunter who wants to ask permission to hunt a piece of property but hates knocking on doors—just try it. To the girl who wonders what people will think if she goes hunting—don’t let people stand in your way.
Don’t fear failure, fear missing out on the experience.