I’ve been a hunter since I was a child, and no matter how good I’ve gotten at it over the years (if you don’t show progress, you aren’t really trying, are you?), I always have had it pointed out to me by reality, that I still have things to work on. Regardless of whether I actually get what I’m hunting for, or I just go out and sit in or stalk through the woods for the morning or afternoon, a day sitting in the woods, enjoying God’s creation, beats any day sitting in an office or being at work (unless the woods is your office, but relaxing as opposed to working is still pretty awesome). I went out on a Thursday morning a while back for early muzzleloader season, hoping for the best, expecting the worst, but knowing that generally the “worst” is not getting anything, and it’s still better than most alternatives.
Perspective and Priorities
As I sat in my stand, I realized that it is very hard to keep little things I was enjoying at that moment in perspective and priority, especially when we are constantly being dumped on by all the outside influences of the media, etc.. They tell us in no uncertain terms that we have a pretty shitty world to deal with and it’s just getting worse (the media is part of the cause of that dilemma). All that does is reinforces for those of us with a preparedness mindset that it’s going to Hell in a hand basket, and time to prepare is very short.
Is it bad? Of course. Can we do anything to change the direction the world, and specifically the direction our country is going in? Maybe, maybe not. This is the reality I believe. I think the only way there will be a reset, is if the “worst” happens, and it ceases to be the United States of America. There are those that argue that it already has ceased to be the USA, and looking at certain areas, it’s hard to argue their point without looking like an apologist, FedGov cheerleader, a fool, or both.
So what did I determine while sitting in the tree stand that Thursday morning, all the while, passing up a shot at a huge doe that was unfortunately sky lined in front of cattle in the farmers field to the North (I could have made the shot safely, but honestly, is it worth the risk?).
1) I determined that I’m glad one of my favorite hobbies is also a “survival skill” (albeit a soft one compared to some, since it’s just drive to the farm, get in a stand, and kill deer), and I need to do it more than I have been.
2) I determined that living life and recognizing and enjoying the little things more needs to be a higher priority.
It’s fortunate that I enjoy “Survivalist” skills stuff, but I need to do other things that aren’t related, because if all you do is prep, it can steer you towards a negative bend in your overall mental health, and that’s not good for you, or anyone around you.
Later that afternoon, I go back out to the same stand, hoping to get a shot at the doe I saw that morning. I sat there for about an hour and 45 minutes, mulling over what I was thinking about earlier that morning, even while I was enjoying the squirrels coming within 2 feet of me (only then to determine that the tree in front of them appears somewhat…..different). As I look up to my right, what do I see about 125 yards out, but a whitetail buck, running right towards me.
He kept looking over his shoulder, and because I had heard coyotes yippin’ about 15 mins before in that direction, I figured that’s what he was lookin’ for. Deer generally don’t look over their shoulder that much if it’s a human that has spooked them. He was running fast enough that all I could determine was that he had at least three horns on my side of his rack ( I use a 4x scope on my muzzleloader not a 3-9x, or 4-12x, and I use a lower powered scope so I don’t shoot beyond the range/effective deer killing power of my rifle).
I took a running shot right before he disappeared into the woods, and listened to him run about 30 or so yards, then start coughing. Anyone who has hunted deer for any amount of time, knows that means you probably got a lung hit. I had only seen brief snippets of him running through the woods before I lost sight of him, so I waited.
About 5 minutes later, he starts thrashing around and I finally get a glimpse of where he was. He thrashed for about 2 minutes, the nothing. While he’s thrashing around I got sight of a small patch of white that I was able to maintain sight of when he stopped moving. Due to how thick the brush was, I couldn’t see anything else of the deer, trust me, I TRIED!
Now comes the “patience” part of this post. I am usually a pretty patient guy. I have never really had issues with patience, whether it was in my military life and the tasks/duties I was assigned, or as a civilian, waiting for something that I was looking forward to. No issues with patience……. EXCEPT FOR THIS!
I have always wanted to “jump the gun”, after shooting a deer, whether it was up close, and the first deer I shot at 14 years old with my bow, or whether it was the longest rifle kill I’ve made out past 600 meters and my daughter was in the stand with me. (ya know, it’s a lot harder when you have to follow the “rules/proper way” because you’re teaching one of your kids how to do it correctly). Teachin’ kids the benefit of patience can carry over into many other facets of life.
So I stood there with that patch of white in my binos, approximately 50 yards away, and I determined I would wait 30 minutes and get him before it got dark. 30 minutes is nothing right? AND I WAITED, AND I WAITED, AND I WAITED!!! I swear the second hand on my watch was going backwards at one point.
So 30 minutes is up, I didn’t know anything about the buck I shot except he was at least average size, and had some horns (I’m not a horn hunter, It takes too long to boil them to make them edible, I hunt to fill the freezer), and he hasn’t moved for 30 minutes. I start stalking into the woods, rifle at the ready, waiting for him to jump up, hoping he wouldn’t and thinking about the others I’ve “jumped” and had to try and shoot a second time (usually destroys more meat), because of my lack of patience in times past.
Guess what, he didn’t jump up. He was dead and done laying under some thorn bushes, and I took the next 30 minutes, dragging him through the brush to the edge of the woods, because he was a monster (yes, it is a subjective term based on what I know is average in our area).
Why am I relaying this to you? The answer is simply this. I’ve had people say, “Oh, you don’t understand JC, you already are squared away in training, PT, and preparedness, you don’t have to worry about not being ready for bad things to happen.”. I find it funny that people make those assumptions based on the little they know of me.
My answer to that is that we ALL have something that needs work. Whether it’s your PT (yup, right here buddy), learning new skills (I’m always trying to learn new things), perfecting the ones you’ve already learned (never ending if you’re a serious Survivalist) , or simple crap like having the patience needed to bag that deer in the thicket, and not “jumping the gun” (because you’ve been an impatient ignoramus in times past), and losing food that could feed your family if times were hard.
That deer ended up being the biggest deer I’ve ever shot in the area I live in. To say I was happy is an understatement, and after getting it home, I was able to give Mason Dixon Vixen a block of instruction on dressing big game (up till now it’s just been small game).
Patience is one of your biggest assets or greatest failings, and can make a difference between surviving, or dying. That, and the answer are as relevant now as it was when I wrote it the first time a few years ago. Find what you need to work on, and by God, work on it. Don’t fool yourself into a false sense of complacency, believing you can make up for skills, mannerisms, and mindset with gear. You will fail, and have no one to blame but yourself. Don’t “JUMP THE GUN”, take your time, make a realistic plan, and implement it when the time is right.
"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.