By Alex Comstock
Deer hunting is a serious thing. In fact, we take it so serious, doesn't it seem crazy sometimes? This past weekend, I had moments where I felt like I had been defeated by deer, and moments where my excitement level was booming through the roof. Want to know what's even crazier? It's August 24th! Deer season hasn't even started yet, and I'm already experiencing the roller coaster of emotion that comes with it. I was hit with a fair amount of adversity this weekend (we all experience it throughout the season) and how you deal with adversity can play a large role in your success, and how much fun you have while chasing big mature bucks.
Expectations Dictate Mentality: My biggest problem this past weekend? I fully expected a couple of places I set new trail cameras to have pictures of shooters. In one certain location, I had glassed a 150" 10 pointer and got zero pictures of deer. Not a single animal. I was deflated. If I had gone into it realizing there might not be a shooter on the camera, I wouldn't have been so crushed. It is critical that when you have such high expectations, to stay level headed if things don't go your way.
Things Get Worse: So I had a couple high expectation cameras strikeout, not the end of the world right? After that, I then had trail camera pictures of a guy messing with one of my cam setups. He was in there multiple times during the duration of a week, driving in on a Polaris Ranger (on walk in access only public land) and I'm lucky he didn't steal my camera. I decided to scrap the spot completely, as I have multiple areas to hunt, and I didn't want to deal with a guy like this.
After these couple hiccups, I went seeking permission on a property that I had been allowed access on in the spring to shed hunt. I was going in with high hopes of gaining permission, and that fell through as the farmer was allowing a good friend of his to hunt the property. I fully understood the situation, but none the less, it was still a disappointment to me.
How do you respond?
It may not seem like such a big deal, but when I go into a weekend envisioning a set outcome, and I come nowhere close to achieving it, the pill can be hard to swallow. I wanted to get all of my stands set in areas I thought there were mature bucks, and it didn't happen.
Take a Step Back: When things aren't going your way, take a step back, breath, and just relax. Figure out what is working well, and what you might be doing wrong instead of feeling sorry for yourself. I had to really focus on taking that deep breath, and then getting back to work, and wouldn't you know it, my luck turned around.
Heading back in the right direction: After doing some thinking, I decided to check a trail camera I had placed in early summer in an area that I thought might not be that great until the rut. It is back in the timber a bit and hard to access. I figured if I could gain permission to access the spot by going through a farmers property I may be able to hunt it early season. Wouldn't you know it, I got permission to use the farmers property (I'm even allowed to park in his driveway) and when I checked the card (which hadn't been checked since June) I got a great surprise.
Renewed Life: There was a giant 10 pointer moving through this funnel all summer long, and to make things even sweeter, every time I captured him on camera, it was between 6:00pm-8:00pm, which is squarely during shooting hours. This buck will definitely be towards the top of the hitlist, and possibly the most killable deer I know of.
Plan Going Forward: My plan as a whole going forward is to pin down this buck and hopefully end up wrapping my hands around him. But between now and the work that it will take for it to happen, I can't lose sight of the ultimate goal, and that is to enjoy everything I do deer hunting related. Odds are things probably won't work out exactly how I envision it in my head, even though it may still work out in the end. I will get hit with adversity again, and how I respond to it will dictate the end result.
For the hardcore bowhunter, adversity is a sure thing. Not too often does everything go smoothly, and just how you plan. More often than not, something is going to go wrong, or we will screw up at some point. It's important to not let adversity beat you. Learn from it, beat it, get back on your feet, and success will come.