The Unbalanced Life of a Successful Hunter

By Earl Taylor

Successful hunters are not balanced. Most often, their lives are out of kilter from October through January 1. The family suffers. Football goes unwatched. The leaves pile up. Successful hunters hunt.

I have many friends who hunt. I would consider them casual hunters. If the local college team is playing at home, they will opt out of hunting to take the family to the game, complete with a tailgate party along with an after-the-game celebration. If the home team plays away, they might choose to hunt, but they also feel obligated to do their fall yard work or put away the summer toys before the snow flies.

Successful hunters are out of whack. Nothing interferes with their hunting. If it is raining, perfect, they don the rain gear expecting that the bucks will be on their feet longer. When it snows, even more perfect, they add another layer of clothes, stuff their boots with foot warmers, and head to the treestand knowing that a moving barometer pushes deer to feed earlier and more often.

These are the same hunters that their friends call “nuts”; or if they are a kind and gracious friend, the descriptive word, “obsessed” is used to describe the hunter who marches to the field in good and nasty weather. This is the driven hunter.

Part of our human resource training depicts four different personality types: driver, analytical, amiable and expressive. If you are a driver at work, you probably will be a driver in the tree stand. If you are analytical, you probably have the charts, records, and aerial maps to prove your personality. I am afraid the amiable can never get it together to be a serious hunter and the expressive talks about the hunts – he might have a more vivid imagination rather than horns on the wall.

Glenn Brooke, author of A Leader Thinks Aloud, writes, “One of my takeaways from studying biographies of people who contributed significantly to the world is that they didn’t have much balance in their life. They did have rhythms, and seasons. They had work and rest routines. There were seasons when they risked heavily because they poured themselves into an adventure. They were not focused on comfortable or “secure” as a primary outcome.” What is truth in life is true with hunting; those who risked themselves heavily into an adventure, usually produce greater results.

Our Christmas celebrations depend on which children and grandchildren come to our house. Some years, we celebrate closer to New Year’s Day rather than on the 25th. Christmas Eve found me sitting along a picked beanfield. I had noticed some deer in the field for several evenings as I passed by on my way home from another hunt.

There was no traffic on the nearby road – everyone else was snuggled down in their warm homes. When I spotted does, I positioned myself and had my muzzleloader up and pointed in their directions. When the buck busted from the weedy draw, I was ready. I made a choice to hunt rather than drink egg nog. I chose to endure a foggy, wet evening rather than sit by the fire. I had to wait until my neighbor returned home from his Christmas Eve party to help me retrieve the 150 inch buck. Successful hunters are not focused on the comfortable.

Part of my success during a season is my concentrated focus. It works when I am building a new building, and it works when I am hunting. Concentrated focus along with a pinch of “iron will” produces yearly results. Iron will is defined as a burning determination that cannot be stopped or hindered by anything; willing to do anything to get the desired outcome; extremely resilient. Iron will is the fortitude that pushes through failed attempts and unpleasant conditions; iron will win races, it creates monuments like Rushmore, and it forces the hunter from the comfortable couch into an uncomfortable treestand.

Iron will get results
As Brooke stated earlier, there is a season to be out of balance, and there is a season to be balanced. When one looks at the driven hunter, his strengths are very strong, but his weaknesses can be crippling as well if not kept in check. A driven hunter only sees the desired outcome and often will let his aggressiveness eliminate all road blocks and people who get in his way for success. Sometimes those around a driven person can “feel” run over and used up. Wives of a driven hunter know that during hunting season, she takes second place behind the hunt.

New Year’s Day 2016, found me buried behind a line of big round hay bales next to an alfalfa field. The Iowa Hawkeyes were playing in the Rose Bowl, and most Iowans were partying and enjoying the late afternoon game. I chose to hunt. My Ipod and ear buds were tuned into the football game as I listened to Iowa fall behind quickly, 21-0 in the first quarter. I shot my doe before Stanford scored another touchdown. Sometimes, driven hunters hunt for the sheer fun of it and for the challenge of doing something that “normal” people find amusingly crazy at best.

I recently cleaned out my office due to an upcoming retirement. My office walls were lined with racks and pictures of past successes. At the time of the harvest, it was the most important thing. I had been driven to be successful, and I accomplished what I had set out to do. The focused intensity that I put into my hunts produced results, memories, and décor.

As I was putting the various racks in boxes, my thoughts were, “What is going to happen to these when I am dead? They are meaningful to me because of a story in my head about that particular hunt, but my children won’t have the same emotional attachment to my stack of antlers.” I was resolved to imagine that my wife and kids were going to have a very fun garage sale as they unload my treasures.

Addicted, year-around hunters can end up divorced and with a family left in ruin. No set of horns is worth giving up your family to acquire one more rack. Know that this is just one season in your life, and not the most important season either. Hunt with the tenacity of a pit-bull, but understand you will need to return to normal and become the parent and mate you need to be for the other ten months of the year.

As to you amiable hunters, enjoy this year’s parties – I am sure you are eating something, but I am sure it isn’t venison.