Monthly Archives: January 2011

Next Hunt: Youth Hunt!

Today marked the end of the 2010-2011 duck season, and it went out with just a couple small bangs! I shared the blind this morning with three friends, one being my hunting buddy Harrison.

Harrison is 8-years old and has the bug for hunting like few kids I know. And hunting alongside him helps remind me of all the great reasons why I started hunting. Santa recently delivered a sharp new compound bow to young Harrison that I look forward to him shooting with me all summer long.

Now that the season is over for me, the next two times I will take to the woods or waters will be two of my favorites. And I won’t even be toting a gun. Next week is North Carolina’s Youth Day for duck hunting. I’m planning to join friends, who also will be accompanying youth, to make sure we provide some kids with an awesome day of duck hunting – regardless of the number of ducks we go home with.

After that, it’s time to start thinking about April’s Youth Day for turkey hunting. I’m hoping I can join the folks at Fort Bragg again. That hunting day last year was among my favorites of 2010.

Here’s hoping we’re making it “Youth Day” as often as possible throughout the rest of the hunting seasons.

Hunting: My favorite sport.

I am a proud venison eater. Just last week, I went to a dinner event – attended by more than 100 people – where we enjoyed more than 20 different entrees prepared with the harvests of many successful hunts. And each bite of food that hit my mouth was tasty. This post, though, is less about venison and more about the reasons why I have a freezer full of it.

One of this blogger's early whitetails with a bow.

Venison is not the reason I hunt. And I’m not looking to use it as an excuse for explaining to people why hunting deer makes me happier than a lab’s jowls lapping up peanut butter.

I hunt deer because I enjoy the challenge, the time in the woods, and the sport that comes with outsmarting an old, wily whitetail. My preferred method of success is with a bow and arrow, but I don’t mind shooting a deer with a gun.

The food my family gets, and the fact that it’s the most effective manner for conserving wildlife, just so happen to be great byproducts of hunting. Let that be crystal clear to anyone who’s wondering.

Far too often, I find my fellow sportsmen having to defend the reasons why they hunt. That’s hogwash. No one in our country should have to defend their participation in an honest and legal sport that has roots as deep as the trees in the Redwood Forest.

You might wonder why I’m a bit feisty about this topic. I just watched a propaganda-filled video being kicked around the digital world where an alleged veterinarian presents a case that bowhunting is an ineffective way to hunt deer. He spends a great deal of time pointing out that deer, when shot with archery equipment, do not die instantly. At this point, I’m hoping I hear a collective, “Naw, really?” from our readers.

I have shot somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 deer with a bow. While that number might represent an “insignificant sample” in the world of research, I can tell you that my successful retrieve rate for bowhunting is better than my own rate with a gun. I know that reams of data exist to point out a variety of metrics on what is the best way to kill a deer. Articles published on the topic are probably in the hundreds. I can read all that until I’m blue in the face, but what matters to me is the experience I’ve had in the woods. That is my first-party research. I assure anyone who reads this and might question otherwise that a compound bow is more than effective at placing a lethal shot on a whitetail deer.

Is every shot lethal? No. Much like hunting with a rifle, a shotgun or a sling shot, hunters are not perfect. Heck, even Peyton Manning throws interceptions. While it’s not a pretty point to make for some, that too is part of the sport.

While you think about that, I’m headed to the kitchen to cook some venison chili.

Peaks and Valleys of 2010 Hunting Season

On its surface, 2010 should easily go down as one of my best hunting seasons in a sliver under two decades of heading to the woods. And it was memorable – no question. I was able to kill over 300” of antler, including my all-time largest buck, hunting two of my favorite states in the Midwest. I shared camp with some of my dearest friends, and made some new ones along the way.

The tallest peak of 2010

By all accounts, it was an amazing year. But something was missing. Or perhaps it was more than one thing, but there definitely exists a void in my hunting soul when reflecting on 2010.

Looking through my hunting journal, one glaring absence is the actual number of days afield – down roughly 50% from the average number of times I made it to the woods or on the waters over the last two decades. There are many constraints to credit that to, and many of those (time with my family) pale in comparison on my list of priorities. However, I’m looking already at finding more opportunities to get outdoors in 2011.

Without question, one of the biggest holes for my 2010 season – and it’s a gaping one – was not getting the chance to get “home” to hunt my native woods in Western New York. This season was the first time since I was old enough to hunt that I didn’t step foot in my family’s woods. I vow to do all in my power to not let that happen again.

As Sage knows better than anyone, my duck hunting in 2010 has been almost nil. That’s another reason my hunting spirit is dampened. Outside of a little hunting during North Carolina’s early split, I’ve not been able to hit the water. While I plan to get on the water a little bit before the season closes later this month, this season will easily conclude with the fewest number of ducks in the freezer of recent memory.

Driven primarily by the limited time found to hunt, I’ve missed out on being able to share the woods and waters with some of my closest hunting friends. In a sport where success if more often a bonus than it is the norm, spending time with your friends rises as one of the best parts. Not being able to do that as much this year is a bit disheartening.

It’s interesting to me how things are prioritized differently as you grow older. A growing family has certainly impacted the important things in my life. That said, hunting remains among the most important pieces. There are some folks who will read that and wonder how someone could put family and hunting in the same group of important things. They will think I’m off my rocker.

I disagree.

Simply put, they both compete for our time. Will hunting ever surpass the joy of being with my family? Absolutely not. But because they’re both important to me, other decisions may be impacted to make sure they get enough of my time.

I’ve seriously considered cutting back my hobbies. And I don’t feel like I have too many. The one that often sits in the crosshairs for getting cut is golf. And every time I consider stopping altogether, I play a round just well enough to keep me interested. Additionally, it’s hard to quit golf when there are business events tied to the sport each year.

Anyone else ever in that predicament?

I don’t want to sound as if I’m complaining. The peaks that were a part of my season are some of the highest a hunter can enjoy. I’m both humbled and grateful for those. However, some of the valleys that joined the peaks in making this year unique have got me doing some evaluating.