Well, it's almost here. I mean, that's almost my sentiment at this point. It's not disillusionment with bow hunting, or the outdoors. Certainly not the latter. But at age 42, and 15 years after I first took a bow into the woods (what a clown I was!), I don't worry about bow hunting the way I used to worry about it. Now - I still worry about duck hunting, saltwater fishing, surfing, and other things I love more than bow hunting, but I don't worry about bow hunting and I'll tell you why - it's that I have learned to prepare.
Now, I know what you're thinking, "He must have the Max-F7 Anti Carbon Stank Pants!" or something else. No, not really. "He must have gotten rid of his clover full plots for the new proprietary GMO Rack Buster Triticale!" No, still have the clover. Except where I don't, where there's nothing. So what has got me calmed down about bow hunting? A few things.
1. Kept shooting. After my last bow hunt around January 20, I only hung up the bow for about 40 days. I go through periods where I show 20-30 shots every day for 3-4 days, then it falls off the radar for 3 weeks. But I now target shoot, outdoors, from March to August. I know how my bows are performing, for better and for worse.
2. Given up on poachers. At my #1 spot (which is well posted but has a long history of outlaw dumbasses), we have poachers. They use my stand, and I've recovered various bolts and arrows from the woods around my stand, including a crossbow bolt stuck in a tree that could have *only* come from my stand. So, I locked the tree stand seat in the upright position. If they want to hang onto the ladder all day, I guess, whatever. If they steal my stand, I mean, good riddance. It's cheap and it's been hanging in the weather for four years. The bolts in it are about done (why would you use indoor bolts when building a tree stand? - separate topic).
3. I've decided to stop passing up deer. Last hunting season, I took two long shots on does (both mortal wounds) in the late season after having numerous does, fawns, and small bucks around my stand in the early season. I know that big bucks were around and I didn't want to "waste a tag." I'm over that. If I have a shot, and I have a tag for it, it's getting shot. Especially given the poaching in the area, it's not like I can effectively manage the herd.
4. I'm quitting after one. There's a lot coming up this winter, including trips to Louisiana and Florida. I don't want to be freezing my ass off in a tree stand in Maryland in January. But I would really like to take a deer. Any non-infected deer with a fair amount of meat.
5. I stocked up in the off-season. I didn't go nuts. I bought another half-dozen shafts and three more field tips for each bow (125s and 100s). I did that in July, because I'll be damned if you can find that stuff come October 15.
6. My fat self is back in the gym. I've been going to the gym pretty steadily since June, and pretty intensely since late July. As a result, I have lost zero pounds. But I can now GIT up that hill, and flex my knee over that boulder and carry 100lb of corn on my shoulder without wondering if something's going to give out. I've gotten on a new, long term plan that hopefully results in some pounds being shed, but more importantly, not dropping dead of a heart attack while in the tree stand.
So as you see, I've trimmed back quite a bit. I'll still wash my clothes in scent-free detergent and keep them in a rubbermaid tub in the truck cab (trust me, my wife is a huge fan of that activity), and if the deer trail moves terribly far from the stands I hunt, I'll entice them back to the old trail with bait. But I'm not worried about it now. I hope this time of year finds you the same way - not fretting over gear details at the 11th hour, and instead getting ready for your annual communion with the forest. I hope it's as good as you dreamed it would be.
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