Friday, October 23, 2015

Modern Day Hunting Slogans

Blair Lake Montana
View from the boarder of Idaho looking into Montana
This year has been one of the hardest seasons for me for many different reasons.  At the same time, I have had some great experiences that have helped me from becoming so discouraged that I throw in the towel.  Through these high's and low's, there have been quite a few different thoughts cross my mind that I felt I would share with you to see if I am the only one who feels this way.

Public Land "Slogans"
My hike in
This year has by far been my most disappointing hunting season in regards to my interaction with other hunters.  There have been at least 5 specific situations where another hunter has spooked the game I was after as I was making a stalk or calling one in.  Not only have I had this happen, but I was also flipped off, yelled at, and cursed at even though I was the hunter stalking the animal first or set up prior to the other hunter even showing up.  I spent plenty of time hiking "further and longer" than the typical hunter yet as well as "going in early and staying late".  With that said, I will say that even though you hear that you need to go in earlier, stay later, hike further, and stay longer than other hunters... some times those slogans are nothing more than words.  Don't get me wrong, the message in these saying have a place and are true to an extent, while realizing that you are not nor ever will be the only hunter who has the same mentality or game plan.  The truth is, you hunt where the animals are.  The reality is that when you hunt public land, you are never going to be the only one who hunts an area or is moving in on a elk that is bugling.  There have been plenty of hunting trips that I have gone on where I have been so high in the back country that I start to think to myself that I may be the only one within miles... just to look down and find a beer can, a candy wrapper, or even look down the ridge with my spotting scope just to see a group of hunters following my exact same path.  We live in the time where the "high country" is as much of a status as it is an adventure.  I have even had many non-residence contact me asking where they should hunt while making the point that their main motive is to be on a "backpacking high country elk/deer hunt".  I have talked to a few of them about where they may be able to find a mature buck or bull and if it's not in the "high country" they aren't that interested.   Soo to conclude this point, as long as it is "cool" to backpack into the high country and chase screaming bulls or big mule deer, then you will never be alone on public land.

Idaho Pano shot
Solo hunting experience
Learning to Hunt Solo...
This is one struggle I have had for a couple years now... I recently saw a post that said, "Good hunting buddies are hard to find so keep the ones you've got".  This post hit home for me because I have struggled recently to find someone to go hunting with me.  My wife has naturally been my best hunting buddy while having kids, and her being a working mother, it has been hard for her to find time or justify leaving her other responsibilities to come hunting with me.  My other hunting buddies either have moved, demanding work schedules, or other friends they would rather hunt with which has left me with the option of hunting alone most of the time.  When you have spent most of your time hunting in a group of 2-4 people, it is quite an adjustment to learn how to hunt alone.  Spotting and stalking can be done easier when you are a solo hunter, but when you try to set up and call in an elk, it is nice to have someone behind you calling while you set up for the shot.  Another adjustment for me (which makes me sound like a softy) is being "okay" with experiencing some of the most amazing views, some of the most unique experiences, or some of the most rare moments in the wild yet not being able to share that moment with someone else.  Don't get me wrong, I could spend days on end alone in the mountains and be as happy as could be, but sharing these moments with someone else creates a bond that can't be adequately expressed in words.   No matter how good I am at explaining an awesome experience to someone, it never seems to do it justice.

"Hunters need to support one another"
illegal structure
Permanent structure I found some hunters building
Sorry for starting this section so bluntly, but... SCREW THAT!!!! As I mentioned earlier, this year has been one of the most disappointing years I have ever had while hunting.  I have been flat out embarrassed by some of the other hunter's conduct.  From seeing illegal behavior to unruly treatment toward other hunters, it has been hard to follow the slogan or saying that "hunters need to stick together" or "We're on the same team". From what I have been experiencing this year, as well as previous years only in smaller amounts, is that not all hunters are built the same way... The truth of the matter is that there are some hunters that are great, respectable, and considerate even if this involves them allowing another hunter to pursue or tag an animal they were after.  On the other hand, there are some hunters that are selfish, greedy, entitled, and down right rude when interacting with other hunters.  Don't get me wrong, I'm protective of my hunting areas and wish that I was the only one who hunted it, but when this reality sets in I will ALWAYS have some interaction with other hunters as long as I'm hunting on public land.  It's been hard for me to cope with the reality of how rude and inconsiderate some hunters can be, but I have had to remind myself that the more I let them bother me and upset me, the less I enjoy my passion of being in the outdoors.  One concept that is shared often in my profession is to not allow certain people to have control or influence over your life.  I have had to force myself to let things roll off my shoulder and not hold on to the conflicts I have encountered this year.  I can let go of all the drama without supporting or endorsing their behavior.  I actively stand up for the rights of hunters as well as the ethical and legal treatment of our land and animals.  Often those who are confrontational and arrogant are doing something they shouldn't be which is one more reason to avoid them and do your own thing.  I have reported illegal activity as I have seen it, and feel better when I let some hunters be how they are while I do my own thing... Never will I "be on the same side" or "be on the same team" as someone who treats others with such little respect or treats the land/animals as disrespectful as they do...
baiting elk
Under the permanent structure they were dumping feed, baiting in the elk
In essence, even though there are a lot of popular slogans and saying for hunting on social media, remember that this is all stuff that is said on the internet.  There is truth to many of these slogans and sayings but in reality we are all different, hunt differently, have different goals, and have different motives.  You can hunt as hard, far, and long as you want but in most cases you still won't completely avoid other hunters as long as you are on public land.  Yes there are more people in certain areas than others and you can choose to hunt in an area with less pressure, but just know that its just a matter of time before another hunter has the same ideas as you.  Hunt the way you like, we are not on the same team, but you don't have to be rude and inconsiderate toward others.  You can do your thing and let others do theirs without being confrontational.  When all is said and done I enjoy chatting with other hunters but if we let other people, slogans, sayings, social media, or other popular memes govern our experience we won't experience anything other than disappointment.  They can inspire us, influence us, or even discourage us, but when push comes to shove hunt the way you want and treat others with respect and you'll enjoy your experiences much more.  
grand teton sunrise
Moments I "hunt" for :)

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