Over the last several years I have begun to enjoy hunting alone and have even found myself preferring to hunt alone. Even when the weather is right and the calendar tells me to spend 4 or 5 days on a trip, hunting on my own gives me complete control of my successes and sole responsibility for my failures.
It wasn’t that long ago, that the exact opposite was the norm. I much preferred the company of someone to share sightings with and drink a beer with when we weren’t in a stand. Killing a mature deer was just more fun with someone there to share the moment with. I like to think that life has matured me and that I just take more satisfaction from a job done on my own. But the truth is I just can’t seem to find a partner that doesn’t drive me crazy one way or another!
If you consistently make any of the following careless mistakes, then you just aren’t a good hunting partner. (and if you don’t know. . . then you do!)
Slam the truck door
Number 1 on my list, number 1 in my heart and the first thing that will get you left behind next time. I just don’t understand the complete lack of situational awareness that allows a person to get out of the truck on a cool, still morning and slam the truck door like you are running into Casey’s for a Mt. Dew and a sausage biscuit. The time to “get into the zone” is when you pull into your hunting spot to get dressed or prepare to walk in. Even if you have a long hike to your stand or blind, isn’t there some common sense to not wanting to alert every animal in the county that you just rolled in? Be mindful of the stillness and embrace the stealthy mindset you need to be in for the next few hours. This rule is not limited to just the front door, it includes the backdoor, the tailgate and any bow/gun/clothes cases you might need to get in. Although not as bad, but still frustrating, is the guy who has to open and shut the door 10 times because he forgot his rangefinder, his socks, his phone, his portable charger, his snacks, his license, his money, his glasses. . . it never ends.
If you want to hunt with me after the first time, step out of the truck and gently close the door. Get into the backseat once or twice for your gear and ease into the woods. Without ever mentioning it, I will notice your attention to the situation and look forward to doing it all again.
Oversleep. Be Late.
As I write this I have never overslept for a hunt or even been late to leave for one. Of course, that could change anytime, but frankly it isn’t very likely. When my friends pull in to pick me up, I am waiting on my porch, bags packed, coffee in hand and ready to go. It’s common courtesy!
I have pulled up several times to a buddy’s house to find the house dark and offering no obvious sign of life. Then the texts and calls start trying to get him up, only to wake up his wife who for some reason is now mad at me! Hey, I didn’t oversleep, wake that slug next to you up and tell him to get his butt up and outside. Why is it difficult to set an alarm or two and even get up earlier than you think you need? Afterall, we are going hunting! This is supposed to be something you look forward to and get excited about. If you can’t drag yourself out of bed to hunt, then maybe you need to reevaluate your plans for the day.
Worse than oversleeping is just being late. Oversleeping is an accident. Being late is just not caring about someone else’s (my) time or plans. If say I am picking you up at 2 o’clock and I pull up right on time to find you cutting the grass or fixing the dryer (yes, both have happened), then there is an excellent chance you aren’t coming with me. I understand that things come up, but if you just planned to make me late, we will not be traveling together today or any other day. Sorry.
Make this a competition.
If I want to compete in something, I will do just that. Sports, business or checkers. Some things are meant to be competitive and some aren’t. To be honest, I don’t remember a time when I hoped I would kill a bigger buck than someone I was with or just someone I knew. Hell, I want everyone to kill the buck of their dreams and I am flat honored to help them drag it out of the woods. I think my problem with this stems from the thought that if you want to kill a bigger buck than me, then on some level you must be rooting against me.
I’m trying to figure out a way to make hunting and spending time outdoors as appealing to people as possible, so they want to enjoy it. I am grateful for every single minute of every single hunt and every single experience I have in the woods. When it becomes a contest there inevitably has to be a winner and there has to be someone who leaves the day “feeling” like they lost. Hunting in the true sense only has winners and I am unwavering on winning every day.
If you hunt with me, we will root for each other and against the deer. Sound fair?
Complain and not fix it.
“That stand needs to be moved 20 yds”
“There are no good shooting lanes cut”
“The camera on the point is out of batteries”
Move it. Cut some. Put new batteries in it! Hey, this is hunting. Deer movement changes, lanes grow closed and cameras run out of juice. I need a partner that has the desire and work ethic to not only notice problems but take the time and initiative to correct them. Whining about it now and hoping it gets taken care of before you can fix it doesn’t count either. If you want longevity in my truck, have a saw, maybe a few batteries if you suspect a camera is running low and take the time to make things right for the next person or yourself. We all know that hunting is a lot of work and not just during deer season. If you want to be the partner that brings some real value (not $$) to our hunting relationship, I will certainly show my appreciation by making sure we hunt together for a long time.
Keep intel to yourself
On our hunting leases, we hunt together. I don’t mean we always sit together or hunt anywhere close to one another. But we share the efforts, the costs, the enjoyment and most of all the information we gather from cameras and even sightings. Does that mean I expect you to get out of the way and put me on a deer you have patterned? Of course not. But do I expect you to share ALL of the pics from a camera you checked? You better believe it. Do I expect you share that you saw the big 12 up by the barn? I do. If you are on him and are moving in for the kill, good luck! You get all the time and space you need. Call me when it goes down and I will be the first one there to snap a few pics and help drag him out. Keeping that information to yourself is taboo though. It just seems like cheating on your friends to me. If you are truly hoping one of them scores on a big buck, why would you not give them every ethical and friendly piece of information you have to help them?
After hunting alone for a few years, I recently returned to hunting with a partner. A made to order, hunting machine that works his tail off, is passionate about hunting and says and does all the right things. Of course, marrying my daughter was a good start and that might have a lot to do with how well we get along. I am excited to see what we can put on the ground this year and I am even more excited to see what lessons he shares with my grandson.
But if he slams that truck door one time!
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