By: Kevin Sturm
One thing I have learned over the years is, we as hunters all share a love for the sport called hunting. I always find it interesting how I can be talking to a perfect stranger and honestly, not be engaged or invested in the conversation, more or less being socially polite. And then a simple phrase changes all of that, “Do you hunt?” Instantly there is a bond that is created and a new relationship is born. What was going to be a short and quickly forgotten conversation turns into a memorable time warp, of canted sharing and in some cases a new friendship is born. As hunters there are things that we have seen, felt and experienced in the outdoors that no words can explain. And I believe that is the fiber that connects us as hunters and drives us to hunt whenever we can.
10. Permission to Hunt on a New Piece of Ground
We as hunters love a challenge and we are always looking for that perfect piece of hunting ground. As we all know hunting ground can be as elusive as the animals we hunt, BUT when you finally track down the owner of a parcel and get their coveted blessings there is a euphoria and an excitement that words cannot explain. Trail cameras are hung and simple scouting ensues, and almost instantly time seams to stop as we impatiently wait for our chance to hunt the new piece of land.
Every season brings a new set of challenges and obstacles, and every year we work to hopefully stack the odds in our favor. Through scouting, tree stand placement, food plots and trail cameras we work to find that perfect ambush spot. We practice with our bows and guns, shooting different shot angles, shooting different yardages with and without our hunting apparel, methodically and meticulously dialing in our talents and weapons of choice preparing for those few seconds when it all comes together.
8. Testing Our Equipment
It seems like every year there are some new advancements in the hunting world whether it be new types of clothing, camouflage, electronics, weapons, tree stands or blinds. Sometimes it’s just gimmicks and ploys the big companies use to convince us to spend our hard earned money. Sometimes we take the plunge and dive in and purchase new equipment whether we need it or not. Last year I purchased a high dollar pheasant vest and I was eager to use the new vest during the upcoming hunting season. Opening day finally came and I was only a half hour into the hunt when I realized this vest was not going to make the cut. It was too big and bulky and the first rooster pheasant that flushed from the cover got a free pass due to the butt stock of my gun getting caught in one of the pockets on my vest. By the end of the hunt I was just as eager to take the vest back as I had been to purchase the vest. Sometimes those purchases are the best purchases ever made and other times not so much, but part of the fun is figuring out if it is a product suited for us.
7. Disconnecting From the World
We are good at filling our schedules completely full and constantly running in circles day after day. We forget what it’s like to unplug from the real world for a few hours. So getting in a tree stand or walking a field of switch grass in the middle of nowhere with little to no cell phone connection, disconnected from the day to day develops a peace that only fellow hunters truly understand. No phone calls, no work, no nagging and no complaining just peace and quiet. The only person you are dealing with is Mother Nature herself and she allows you to disconnect from the constant challenges of day to day rigors.
6. Seeing Nature at its Best
Every fall and spring I am reminded of how amazing it is to watch the timber come alive every morning and fall to sleep every evening. There are so many things that we see as hunters that many people never see or even know happens in the woods. One of my most memorable moments I have experienced in the outdoors was a fall evening when a group of turkeys chased every deer off of the field. The turkeys had laid claim to the beans that were strewn about the freshly harvested field and they jumped, spurred and battered every single deer that tried to capitalize on the new food. It was one of the most entertaining nights I have had while hunting. It is memories like this that so many take for granted or so many will never even have a chance to encounter. If you love to hunt you will see so much more beauty in this world!
5. Blood Trail
There is nothing like following a blood trail. It’s a moment of excitement, adrenaline and uncertainty. For me, it is one of my favorite and hated things to do all in one. It is the instant when we get the confirmation that we made a good shot or a bad shot. Then there is the moment when you find your query at the end of the blood trail, the moment when all doubt is gone and excitement and happiness sets in.
4. The Challenge
As hunters we love a challenge that is why we are hunters. Nothing should come easy to us and we accept that challenge. We know before we head out hunting there is a good chance we will come home with nothing. We know we will invest time, energy, money and more time in most cases, before we taste victory. Sometimes success looks different. For example, I had a buck on trail camera three years in a row and never saw the deer on the hoof once. For me, a successful hunt would have been just to see this elusive monarch buck. I hunted the stand near the trail camera every time the wind was in the right direction, carefully sat in the tree stand and impatiently waited for my chance to set eyes on this buck. It wasn’t until doe season that year that I saw the buck. He stood next to a doe at 50 yards and hung out for nearly an hour. All I could do is watch with my gun in my hands and wish I would see this buck again when I could shoot him. Sad to say I never saw the buck again but, I never stopped hunting him or hunting period, the inability to quit and give up is what makes us hunters.
3. The Smell of Gun Powder
I am an avid bow hunter and love the challenge bow hunting presents, but I impatiently wait for late muzzleloader season every year. By that time of the year the deer have beat and pummeled me into submission. I call my muzzleloader the great equalizer. With the extended range and ability to sneak and hunt from the ground I feel like I can stack the deck in my favor. I feel like I finally have the odds in favor and not the other way around. We all know the smell of fresh gun powder and look forward to the smell especially when we know there is a blood trail at the end of it.
2. The Sense of Accomplishment
Some people believe the only way to measure success is by the number of heads and the number of inches of antler hanging on the wall. And to some extent I guess that is true, but I can tell you that some of my most memorable deer hunts have never made the wall. They were hunts that I decided to hunt a specific deer or area knowing the deer was going to be there. Hunting the plan if you will and it all came together. The first deer I shot on video is not my biggest deer by any means but it was a deer that I watched many times walk down a tree line on a property I did not have permission on. After watching the deer do this several times in a row I contacted the land owner and somehow got permission to hunt the property. Due to the lay of the land I knew I would have to hang and hunt that piece of ground. I waited for the right wind direction, walked in with my stand, bow and hunting equipment. I found the perfect tree 25 yards off of the field edge, hung my stand and climbed in. Thirty minutes later mister clockwork came walking down the field edge, presenting me with a 25 yard shot. To say that was a proud moment for me would be a great understatement.
1. The Thrill of the Hunt
The number one reason I believe we love to hunt is the thrill we feel when we are hunting. The adrenaline, excitement, and chaos that is baked into hunting is a prefect formula. It is a formula that hooks us and keeps us coming back again and again and again. I have been hunting a large portion of my life and I still am a complete ball of nerves when I have the opportunity to shoot my quarry. No matter if it is a trophy buck or a doe I live for the moment when I am sitting in my tree stand and deer walk through with no clue I am in the area. I still get an adrenaline rush every time whether it is a button buck, doe or the trophy buck I am after. If that rush every leaves my body that will be the day I hang up my gear, but I know that will never happen! Every year we dream of shooting our dream buck and we know he could be walking by our tree stand at any moment we only hope we are there when he chooses to do so.
Honestly I could go on and on about the reasons why one loves to hunt. The important thing to take from this article however is to respect your prey, respect Mother Nature, and respect the passion we call hunting. Do things the right way and you will always have a sense of fulfillment, no matter if your tag filled or sitting in the truck console for the rest of the year. The old saying “it’s never a bad day if you are hunting” says it all!