Hunting Your Way

Posted on November 23, 2011

By Joe Bell

Do you hunt for yourself? What I mean by that is, do you hunt the way you believe is best, or do you hunt the way others do?

Personally, I find myself doing both, but as I become older, more experienced and hopefully wiser, I do prefer thinking for myself. There are two reasons I believe this is important: Every hunting situation is different, so improvising is best; and hunting the way I want usually increases satisfaction and reward.

However, in order to do this, you must know the ins and outs of your craft and be willing to make mistakes, or to even fail miserably. What this involves is basing your hunting decisions all on instinct—or your gut, I should say. Here’s a hypothetical scenario that hopefully illustrates my point.

Jimmy is an avid whitetail hunter from Missouri. He’s killed six big bucks that gross more than 150. He’s knowledgeable about what big bucks do, where to hunt them and when to take a stand. However, Jimmy hasn’t found any big deer to speak of during the summer scouting season, and now he’s feeling pretty low.

A friend of Jimmy’s invited him on a high-success guided hunt in Kansas, which he has the money for. Nevertheless, Jimmy is a do-it-yourselfer all the way, and going guided just doesn’t appeal to him. But it does sound like a great opportunity to tag a nice buck for the year. He’s not sure what to do.

However, something is nagging at Jimmy … a small voice. There’s a remote ridgeline on one of his hunting farms, not far from a refuge he figures some big bucks call home. He has a hunch that the ridgeline could be the perfect funnel that leads to an abundance of does on the farm. But he’s never hunted it and doesn’t know where to set up. It feels like a long shot; nevertheless, the idea is brewing hot inside.

Should Jimmy go with his gut feeling or go with the “smart thing” to do and book the Kansas hunt?

Jimmy finds himself searching for answers. Eventually, he asks himself an important question. Why do I hunt? Is it to just shoot a big deer, or is to shoot one a certain way—a way that makes me feel satisfied, inspired and excited to hunt more?

Jimmy realizes he must explore the ridgeline area in order to be true to himself and his hunting ambitions, even if it means failing completely. He knows there is a huge risk of blowing his season, but with that risk comes a great reward—doing it his way. This is why he bowhunts.

This season, if you find yourself in a complex hunting situation, I encourage you to ask yourself the same question as Jimmy did. If your gut is telling you to hunt a certain spot, then do it. If it’s telling you to rattle and grunt more, then do it. If it’s telling you to be more aggressive, then crank things up. Don’t ignore the small voice; it could be the most important tool in your bag of tricks.

Sure, others may question your sanity at times, but should that matter? It shouldn’t—if you’re hunting for yourself. Maybe you’ll fail, but maybe you’ll score, too. And if you do, it’ll be the season you’ll never, ever forget.

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