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.
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.
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.