5 Life Lessons Learned from the Field

By Bailey Dodd

Imagine this, you take your five year old daughter on a turkey hunt. You forget hearing protection so you tell her that she will need to plug her ears if you take a shot so it won’t be as loud. A big gobbler steps out in front of the blind and you’re getting ready to shoot. Your daughter plugs her ears, and starts singing and making a bunch of loud noise to block the sound of the gun. Thankfully, you were able to take the shot just before the bird flew away and ended up harvesting him. Believe it or not, that’s what happened to my Dad, and I was that five-year-old girl. That day I learned my lesson about being quiet while hunting, but that’s not the only lesson I’ve learned. Here are the top five lessons I’ve learned while hunting.

Building Relationships
Recently I learned my lesson of choosing my hunting companions wisely. When you’re going on a hunting trip for a while, you want to make sure you get along with the people you’re going with and you’re not just going to sit there awkwardly the whole time. You also want to make sure their ways of hunting are safe. When I went to Colorado to hunt black bear, we went with my Dad’s coworker and his daughter. I had only met them once, a month or two before our trip. I was a little nervous knowing we would be sharing a tiny cabin for 10 days. Thankfully, our personalities and senses of adventure bonded us, and we had a blast. We made lots of good memories and shared a pile of laughs. To have a friend with you while on a hunting trip is truly a blessing. When you share a hunt, you bond quickly with old and new friends. Remember, it’s always okay to make new friends.

Patience, Patience, Patience
Patience is the second lesson I’ve learned through hunting. Sometimes when I’m hunting, I feel really impatient. I tend to get antsy and even start getting mad that there are no animals in the field. I have to remind myself that shooting an animal isn’t always the most important thing on a hunt. To help build patience I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of nature around me. There is something majestic about taking the time to watch the sun rise in the morning timber. Harvesting an animal is an amazing feeling, but the chilly breeze and the birds chirping on the morning of a turkey hunt or the sunset on the night of a deer hunt really make the time well spent. Enjoying the sunrise or sunset while you wait for an animal to pop their head into the field really helps to build patience. Patience is an aspect applicable to every part of our life, and the patience learned while hunting is a lifelong virtue.

Preparation is Key
Preparing is probably the most challenging lesson I’ve learned. Sometimes people think that becoming a marksman is an easy accomplishment, but it takes hard work and dedication. Every sport takes preparation and practice to become an amazing athlete. There are a lot of things you have to do to prepare for a hunt, but for me the most important thing to remember is, always practice shooting to make an ethical shot. I had to learn the hard way last fall on my deer hunt. I shot at a deer with my bow, but I had only practiced with field points and I had never shot an arrow with a broadhead. That hunt was the first time I had ever shot an arrow with a broadhead, which ended up being my problem and caused me to miss. I try to always remember a quote my Dad told me a long time ago, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. This is true whether you are working on a personal project, professional venture, or if you are hunting.

Your Attitude is Everything
Most hunters will likely learn throughout hunts in life that staying positive and never giving up is vital. Instead of quitting or getting frustrated, try to think of a solution to solve your problem. That might prevent you from making that mistake again in the future. I’ve had multiple instances where I will get mad at myself and put myself down when I miss or I don’t hit the bullseye. Failing puts me in a state of mind where I work harder than ever. It motivates me to hit the bullseye the next time I go out shooting. It’s really important to just tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes, even if they’re the best in the world, they will still fail sometimes. If you never fail you never have a chance to learn and get better.

Life in the Field Shapes Us
Both in our personal life and in our outdoor life, not giving up and staying positive are imperative. Peers can provide some good advice we can’t always see. For instance, my Dad has taught me most of what I know about hunting, but there are a few things that I have learned from my Dad’s friends and even strangers at the shooting range. Even if you think there is no solution, consider their advice; it could help you in the future. Along with listening comes you helping others. Give other people advice for their future hunts, because they might need it as well. When you see someone struggling, try to help them get better. In a world full of choices, choose to be kind.

These lessons that I have learned have made me become who I am today. If I didn’t face any of these challenges there wouldn’t be any new lessons for me to learn. I know I have more to learn in the future, and will continue my personal growth. Hunting can teach you a large range of things, you just have to be willing to learn them. A lot of the time I feel as if people don’t understand why hunters do what we do. When you’re young and just started hunting, you might just be there for the hunt. However, it is impossible to be a sportsman and not be shaped by your surroundings. Once you get a little older, you will figure out there is even more to learn within hunting. Hobbies often teach us more than the eye can see, and more than our mind can anticipate.