With hunting season underway or about to start across the country, I wanted to talk a little bit about how hunters should define success as individuals and as a community. Whether you are just starting to hunt or have been hunting for decades, success is unique to you. On the flip side, the hunting community also has a definition of success which is going to be measured in different ways.
Success For The Individual
We all have goals for each hunt, our season as a whole, and our hunting careers. Those goals are something you have to set for yourself. Perhaps you want to kill your first deer. Maybe you want to kill a deer bigger than the one you killed last year. It can also be that you have killed deer with a rifle, but want to do it with a bow for the first time. Success is not inherently tied to bagging an animal. It can be as simple as having a good time in the woods. The important thing is that you don’t let others define what success means for you. Especially in the digital age, there are always going to be people trying to tell you how to feel about your hunts. Don’t get caught up in what they think. Prepare for your season, give your best shot at trying to reach your goals, reflect on how you feel it went, and adjust your goals for the next hunt.
Personally, I want to kill a mature buck this year. I also want to kill a bigger buck than I did last season. I also want to take at least one doe. My goal is to get 3 deer this year so that I have a freezer full of venison to enjoy. Those goals are easy to define: the tangible outcomes. However, the intangibles are harder to define. I want to execute any shots I take well. I hit a deer last year and never found it so it is extremely important to me that any shot I take is one I feel confident in. Even if it means I get no deer this year, I do not want to take any iffy shots. Walking through the woods and sitting in my saddle, I want to keep my noise level down. I also want to be meticulous with my scent control measures and playing the wind.
More important than those goals, I want to work hard this season and enjoy my time doing it. I will spend a large amount of time in the woods this fall. It is a big sacrifice for my family and for other obligations I have. While I cannot guarantee tangible success in return for the work I put in, I can guarantee that I will put in the time, analyze changing conditions in the field while adapting to them, and stay positive.
That’s how I define hunting success. You may define it differently for yourself. The important thing is that you enjoy your time outdoors, feel good about the decisions you make while hunting, and respect the resource.
Stick around for Part 2 where I’ll discuss how the hunting community as a whole defines success.