Tag Archives: Deer Hunting

Never Take Yes For An Answer

Don’t Take Yes For An Answer

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?
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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.

Ditch Assumption

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.

bowhunting miss

Five Simple Strategies for Rebuilding Confidence after a Miss

In case you didn’t know, the story of Robin Hood is only a legend. Perfect people, perfect shots and perfect hunts don’t exist 100% of the time. Unlike Friar Tuck, we haven’t been granted the privilege of living in a fairy-tale world. Humans who hunt are prone to error.
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Today’s hunting culture puts a great deal of emphasis on making accurate shots and rightly so. As hunters, we owe it to the animals we hunt to make sure our shots are ethical and within our optimum effective range.
Unfortunately, the ethics police seem to stand guard on every blog and forum to enforce standards of ‘how far is too far,’ dish out heaping spoonfuls of would’a, should’a, could’a and gladly heap criticism on the man or woman who might have blown it. The only problem with our trend toward perfectionism is that it doesn’t exist. Even the best of archers and marksmen can make a mistake.
Although it takes time and effort to build self-assurance with a bow or gun, a missed shot can destroy a hunter’s hard-earned confidence in a matter of moments. But a slow walk and long sulk ‘from tree stand to truck’ does nothing to rebuild belief in one’s own ability. So how do we deal with the destructive thoughts and emotions that come with a missed shot on a trophy animal?
Moving through and getting beyond our errors is the key to rebuilding confidence. It has been said, “Errors become mistakes when we perceive them and respond to them incorrectly. Mistakes become failures when we continually respond to them incorrectly.”
Knowing what steps to take can help ensure we don’t fall into the failure trap.


Forfeit the Blame Game

When a miss occurs there is a human tendency to place blame on anything that exempts us from responsibility. In an effort not to look bad, we blame a jumped string, twig, branch, sun, wind—anything to avoid putting blame on the guilty culprit known as me, my and I.
It’s no secret that blame never rebuilt anyone’s confidence. A bold face admission of a miss will be the fastest way to regain your confidence. As Eloise Ristad stated so well, “When we give ourselves permission to fail, we at the same time give ourselves permission to excel.”

For the hunter who spent countless hours preparing, practicing and making sure the weapon of choice were ready for the moment, it’s tough to swallow your pride and say, I blew it. Just remember, there have been great men such as Fred Bear, who missed plenty of shots and were humble enough to simply admit, “I missed.”


Slay the Second-Guess Syndrome

Hunters (myself included) could learn a lot from the old adage, “To over-analyze is to paralyze.” Missed shots walk the human mind through the dangerous mine fields of, what if, hows come, maybe, and so on. This analyzing generates scenarios and questions that we could dwell on ad infinitum. The only problem with second-guessing oneself is that it provides doubts and apprehension, not the necessary encouragement to rebuild confidence.


Be aware that second-guessing is nothing more than self-criticism in a more rational form. It’s okay to learn from cause and effect, but allowing your mind to dwell on hindsight and self-judgment is a confidence killer.

In order to put confidence back in motion there comes a time when we man up, put on our big boy pants, stop second-guessing and refocus on the next opportunity. This is the defining moment that will either make you an achiever or a failure.


Learn to be an achiever—achievers have the ability to put past events behind them and move on. No one goes forward by second-guessing.


Isolate the Incident

You might have missed a shot, but you haven’t missed every shot. Walk yourself down memory lane to the hours spent practicing and relive the shots that were perfect. Focusing on past success is an important factor in regaining your confidence.


Bob Butera, former president of the New Jersey Devils hockey team, was asked what makes a winner. He answered, “What distinguishes winners from losers is that winners concentrate at all times on what they can do, not what they can’t do. If a guy is a great shooter but not a great skater, we tell him to only think about the shot, the shot, the shot—never about some other guy outskating him. The idea is to remember your successes.”
Don’t allow one miss to define you as a failure. Keep in mind the many perfect shots you’ve made and allow those successes to define you.


Cancel Your Ticket to the City of Self-Pity

As James Allen writes, “A man is literally what he thinks… .” So beating yourself up over a miss will do nothing to reconstruct the necessary confidence you need for your next shot opportunity. Resist the temptation to internalizing your mistake and continually dwell on thoughts of how worthless you are. Those thoughts are simply not true.
Remember, you’re involved in a sport that attempts to tackle nature’s elements and match wits with its instincts. You have enlisted in the ultimate mind game. Staying focused and believing that you have the ability to succeed is a self-fulfilling necessity to overcome any adversity.


Psychologist Simone Caruthers says, “Life is a series of outcomes. Sometimes the outcome is what you want. Great. Figure out what you did right. Sometimes the outcome is what you don’t want. Great. Figure out what you did so you don’t do it again.”

A miss does not make you a failure. Don’t take the miss personal. Non-personalization is the secret to rebuilt confidence. As has been said, “get over yourself—everyone else has.”


Step Back Up to the Plate

Your attitude after the miss will become the very emotion you put into the next opportunity. This is no time to climb down from the tree stand or leave the ground blind (unless you have to fix a malfunctioning weapon). This is the time to vent your emotions, grit your teeth and go right back to hunting.


Pushing the resume button will insure you continue to push through the emotions. The feelings will come and go, but learn to separate feelings from reality. As J.I. Packer said so well, ”A moment of conscious triumph makes one feel that after this nothing will really mater; a moment of realized disaster makes one feel that this is the end of everything. But neither feeling is realistic, for neither event is really what it is felt to be.” Failure is not a feeling; it’s an act of refusing to try again. You’re not a failure, so learn, endure and press on.


The greatest of hunters have had their misses. They became even better hunters by learning how to move beyond the miss and keep trying. There’s no shame in a miss. The shame is allowing the miss to define you as a failure.