As hunters, a great majority of the time is spent talking and reminiscing on our successes. What about the failures?
Are they buried away because you fear ridicule?
Do you internally make excuses vindicating your mistake?
Do you try less because failure is something you are not accustomed to?
Failure is an unfortunate path that can lead to success if you are willing to understand and embrace it.
If deer could petition the court, hunters would have restraining orders served on them every season. We glass them. We set up trail cameras. Countless hours are spent thinking about how to kill them leading to an obsessive compulsion. The odds are typically not in our favor, but we keep going back anticipating a different result. Insanity? Perhaps, but it is the glory of the unknown that keeps us going back.
In 2020, I began stalking a deer simply named “The Big 9”. He is famous in my house. During the 2020 season, I had three shot opportunities on him. Like reliving a nightmare, I made a mistake each time that led to his survival. My only solace was finding his left shed.
I was even more focused during the 2021 season. On the morning of December 18th, we had our first encounter of the season. It turned out to be our only encounter. He was at 22 yards at my 5 o’clock position. Everything felt right. I was calm, settled, and focused. I released the arrow. Blindfold and turn me upside down, I make that shot.
I am aware of three hunters who have missed shot opportunities on him. That list now includes me. The arrow deflected off a limb I did not account for.
Successes and Failures
A hunter’s successes are proudly displayed on walls and retold like they happened only a few hours ago.
Our failures linger. We do not display nor dare to tell them in fear of being viewed as a failure.
Everyone deals with success and disappointment differently. There is no right or wrong way. There is only the way that is comfortable for you. I have a negative mindset. I routinely plan to fail. If it happens, I consider myself prepared for what happens next. Without warning, an event occurs that only allows for a successful plan. Fail and not be prepared, the ensuing disappointment can be devastating.
I spent 15 years in a quasi-military organization. During this time, I learned about and researched the bulletproof mind concept. At its simplest form, a bulletproof mind equates success to having the right mental approach.
Hunting presents extremely challenging mental scenarios and we do not always evaluate them correctly. A miscalculated movement leads to a disastrous ending. A misplaced arrow. Some factors we do not control.
It is a mathematical equation without a constant variable, therefore one single answer does not apply. Achieve a bulletproof mentality to level half of the hunting field and then set an achievable goal.
Making Sense Of It All
I have already began strategizing how to optimize trail camera locations, stand relocation, and areas where habitat improvement can be achieved. My goal for the 2022 season is to proudly display the Big 9 in my home and retell my success story like it happened a few hours ago.
I know my failure will lead to success. I do not know when it will happen. By staying mentally prepared when the opportunity presents itself, you are already halfway there. The remaining half is simply drawing back and releasing your arrow. This time, there is no limb in your way.