This Blog Post Is an Excerpt From The American Hunting Podcast Episode 001: You Can Find The Whole Conversation Here
I think, because I’ve recently started hunting within the last three years, and there’s just a lot of things I don’t know. So every time I get out in the field and I’m on a farm, I’m hanging stands. I’m constantly learning things, and I have questions that are probably ridiculous questions that, frankly, I think guys might be scared to ask online if they don’t have a mentor. And, you know, I’ve seen guys, especially on Facebook and some of these groups, man, they’ll ask a question and they just get eviscerated. I mean, guys just laying into them and it’s crazy because it seems like the question is coming from a genuine place of curiosity and they want to learn this. And when you get, I don’t want to say “elitist” attitude. But when you get a response, like some of these. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes guys will just treat them like they’re idiots. And it’s like, that drives people away. So I’m fortunate enough to hunt with Sean, work with Sean in the hunting industry. I feel comfortable asking questions. So I think if you and I are having conversations about, you know, the view of a third year hunter and a guy who’s been hunting for almost thirty years, there’s big knowledge gap there, Sure. So you know, that’s why this makes sense for me to have this podcast because I know other guys were in my position, too, and they have these questions and they don’t know who to ask and that sometimes they don’t know what to ask. Perfect. And, you know, I might not have the answer. My answer might not always be shared by people, you know. That’s not how I do it. I mean, you think about field dressing a deer. You know, I’m a pelvic splitter. That’s you know, that’s taboo for some guys. And I was even called one day, you’re a pelvic splitter like it’s that bad, you know but that’s how I do it. Who cares? The thing is, most hunters, almost all of us have common ground. You know, you talk about the big Three sports, religion and politics. Most hunters are probably going to share those views most. But, boy, you walking on somebody’s hunting ground, or you cross them somehow, man, they’ll come out. I know exactly what you’re saying.
You know, I grew up going to the Indianapolis 500. There’s nothing that I enjoy more than taking somebody new to the 500. It’s the first time they’ve seen it, and they’re just “Oh, wow. This is what I’ve been missing.” Biggest sporting event in the world. Yeah, and hunting is the same way. I really get enjoyment out of seeing new hunters hunt being with him, showing him all right. You know, showing him what to do, where to go. What kind of stuff? And you, You’re a perfect example of that. I think Connor’s been on our staff about a year. Just this morning, we got him a new tree stand like “Okay, Here you go. Here’s how you hang your tree standing” you know, hopefully he goes out and stays safe. It’s pretty exciting.
So let’s talk about a little bit about where we are hunting wise this season. Um, we’re hunting a week ago and on our lease in South Eastern Indiana and out steps, a bona fide giant I was sitting in the stand that we hung. It was one of the first ones we hung this season, and we kind of knew where it was on the corner of the property overlooking a field, probably going to be a gun stand at the very least observation stand. And I knew that sitting there Sunday. So I had the camera out there. I had the nice lens, and we had some deer on trail cams and we’re excited. And then these two studs walk out. My first two years deer hunting weren’t as fruitful as I would have hoped. We had a lease that we had some trespassing issues on. And, you know, that kind of ruins the situation for us. But we dealt with that the best we could, and I didn’t see a lot of activity I didn’t really get to learn a lot from that experience when it comes to hunting and how to hunt big deer and how to do things the right way. I learned how to deal with trespassers, but I guess that’s a different story. And then last year was just a weird one for us because we had a spot that you look at the aerial on paper, it’s supposed to be a paradise The land owner had a field that was secluded. He literally called it the Turkey Bowl. We saw one turkey, and it was just most confusing situation. To this day, I can’t put my finger on it, I don’t know why. We have pictures of pretty good deer, too.
So this year’s exciting because we got a new lease and checking cameras and just prepping for the season and this is all still new to me being three years in. So when I see those two deer walk out, I’m just like “This is what it’s all about.” So, yeah, we were there Sunday and we saw those two guys. But, you know, you mentioned a minute ago of being observation stand and the fact that this was a new lease and we walked on it, and the woods were really thick. So we set up what you call an observation stand in here. Exactly. Right. And you observe that night had no shot. He wasn’t even coming over near us. And it is a rifle stand we actually changed out yesterday. Yesterday I put in a ladder stand for a rifle season if we haven’t done anything since then. But you mentioned something to me yesterday in the truck that said you didn’t feel like you were deserving to kill that deer. You have to explain it because I didn’t really get it. You’re talking about You’re not deserving as a “That’s such a magnificent animal that you don’t want to harvest or kill it.” Or do you feel like you’ve not put in enough time in your hunting experience? To have that right. It’s the latter. More than anything, it’s I’m hunting with you and another guy who, you’ve been hunting most of your lives. And he taught you how to hunt, right? I’m the new guy here, and I’m still learning and seeing those deer, taking those pictures where that was exciting. I told you how excited I was just taking a picture of those guys and being able to actually kill that deer if I have an opportunity to do it, I feel like I’d be taking something away from you and Tim. Just because you guys have been putting in the work and I get it, we’re all on the lease together. But, you know, I don’t feel like I’ve earned that yet. Does that make sense? kind of… whack it. You get a chance to kill that deer. There won’t be two happier guys than me and Tim. We’ll drag it out for you. We’ll take all the pictures, and yeah, but if I get a chance, you know, I’m flinging an arrow.
I think he’s pushing one seventy. And Just a stud of a deer. But, you know, and this is a new lease for us. And so we didn’t know, we had an idea. It’s a low corner with a drainage that connects to a fence row. So it’s like they’re probably going to come out here. But lesson learned, we didn’t just go plow and through the woods, you know, in July when we got this place or even recently. Hanging three or four stands on the perimeter, Put some cameras up, get out of Dodge, checking every once in a while, and then we’ll start to move in. Do I want to kill a big deer this year? I do. Do I want to kill two or three Does? I do. But I want this lease long term. Yeah, I want to stay here for five, ten years, and so I feel like it’s best to just play it slow. We’re still going to get a chance to kill deer and coyotes and turkeys and all kinds of stuff. Because you know this Lease is an annual lease. we can mushroom hunt. We can do anything we want for the full year. Recreationally speaking. Sure. So, yeah, I don’t know, I’m excited about it.
And then when you know, when I saw him, you saw him in the morning. That evening, I saw him with what we call a standoff before. He wasn’t coming, and I was are already up there. So I lean over and I kind of get my grunt tube and give it a blow and he’s staring in my direction. And so I’m locked up for a better part of an hour because I don’t want to blow a 170 off our lease. If he makes me, he’s leaving and he’ll probably find someplace else to bed for at least a while, until a pretty girl brings him back. So I saw him this last Sunday, and then we went out yesterday morning and I sat in a stand that. It was basically on his trail that he had walked on Sunday. So I was on edge for literally the whole time. And there’s a shooting lane, and I had to be standing to get a shot in that way. And so I was I was just so excited. I was anticipating them making that same walk there. Didn’t happen, which is fine, but it’s just cool to see. You observe things, you learn about your property, you set up stands. You can learn movement. All these things. I’ve never done all this before. And I feel like this lease is the first year I’ve had an opportunity to really learn how this works, how to actually hunt, not just go out and kill a deer. Or just go and sit in a tree.
I was talking to Connor earlier like “here’s the tree stand, here’s how it goes up. It needs to be in a straight tree.” basically because it’s a ladder. I think, but don’t just find a straight tree, right and hang it like it’s a good tree. I’m comfortable. If they’re not coming by, they’re right, you know, you gotta find where they’re coming by. And it’s to a point where, you know, maybe new hunters are like exactly where you sit Find trails? A trail is the most obvious, easiest thing to set up on, you know? So if you find a deer trail with deer tracks in it, Maybe even some deer poop, Whatever. That’s where you need to set up first or set up a place where you can see that trail that leads into a field, if that’s where they’re coming out, just kind of confirm their movement, and you know a way you go. You just have to go do it, man. I mean, literally. Obviously, we work for The American Hunting Lease Association and we do lease, and we promote that, and we provide all the tools people need to lease. But we’re pro hunting. We want people to go hunt. I mean, I think there’s like six hundred thousand acres of public land in Indiana. Every single person that can hear my voice right now owns land. We all own land. Everybody owns land because every state has public land of some type. There’s six hundred thousand acres in Indiana. You hear all the horror stories about public land hunting, all that kind of stuff. However, you know, there’s public land down near our lease. We saw the first truck down there yesterday, and it’s the middle of the week kind of stuff, but it’s getting right up. Until now, you could have walked in there and been alone and taught yourself how to hang a stand. Where I want to sit and do all that. But you just have to get up, go there, park your truck, you walk in and start hunting. It’s the only way to learn. That’s why I enjoyed the Big Oaks Wildlife Refuge hunting that with you. Just because it was so different than anything I’ve done the last couple of years. It really was a hundred percent blind. I mean, we went in there, we got drawn for the no show. It’s a military refuge hunt. And you put in for that, got drawn, and we ended up getting a no show draw, and we drove up there and walked in, and we figured it out. And that learning experience for me was interesting just because it was, you know, I didn’t have a chance to look at an aerial and plan things. There’s just like, let’s see what happens. And you have a deer hanging in your office right now that you killed at Big Oaks. Yeah, I love Big Oaks.
I like a hunting trip. One of my favorite parts of the hunt is the night before. it’s packing. It’s knowing that I’m ready to go. And when we get up in the morning, we were driving somewhere, You know, I like that. I love the hike. You know, I like to hunt back country, all that kind of stuff. So, you know, yeah, I actually enjoyed that. And I think it was invaluable Lesson to new guys. It’s because it’s another opportunity for people. We tend to hear people complaining that access is dwindling. It’s not. You just have to take advantage of what’s offered to you. Big Oaks is fifty thousand acres. They control it. So there’s not too many hunter in a particular place, and it’s a little bit like playing the lottery. It’s not one point six billion like it was the other night, but a giant could step out at any time and you got 50 thousand acres. I mean, you know, you kind of got to know what you’re doing, wind direction or what you want to do.
I should say we’ve talked a little bit about the fact that the industry is losing hunters. Last I saw it was sixteen percent. So the U. S Division Official Wildlife does a study every five years. The last one they published was 2016. We lost six million hunters from 2011 to 2.16. Were they able to pinpoint the reason for that, or is it just we know we’re losing? Yeah, we just know that we’re losing hunters now. Some people say statistically, that’s not even significant, because if we see in the next study it continues, that’s a trend. Now we got a problem. It could be an anomaly and every state reports differently. The reporting system could be pretty bad, but we know we’re losing hunters, so that’s another reason I like to take new hunters is for that reason. But we need to reach out to adults. You know, if you’re a hunter or even a fisherman or a wildlife watcher or a hiker, anything like that, you want to be outside, talk to the people that sit next to you at work, talk to the guy that you see in the morning when you get to work or in the evening when you get back or anything like that, if he’s showed any interest or she showed any interest in you know, “did you like deer meat? How’d you cook it? Hey, do you want to go? I’ll take you some time.” Be that person. People think that it’s all kids. We have to get kids into hunting. Of course we do. That’s a great thing. But I’m more interested in taking people, adults who have no entry into the sport and showing them. “Hey, here’s how this works.” That’s me. I had no entry into the sport. Looking at the outside looking in, hunting seemed intimidating. I don’t know what kind of equipment to buy. I don’t know, but what’s intimidating about it? It’s because there’s such a big undertaking, but intimidated by what people are going to think if you ask those questions because it’s just you and nature. I can only speak for me, personally. I didn’t know where to start, period. And then, from what I see some of the conversations online, I can understand why people would be turned off based on some of the responses they get, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.
I’ve hunted upland game bird for probably a half dozen years or so in South Dakota with my family, my uncle, my grandpa, those guys taking me out, showing me how to do it made that I it helped me understand that I didn’t have anybody to do that deer hunting with. Just the concept of deer hunting, buying a stand and finding a piece of property to hunt and going out to hang. It just seems too big for me to comprehend. Too much to do. And I knew I would do something wrong. And then it wouldn’t result in me maybe killing a deer. I would get discouraged and I wouldn’t want to do it anymore. So having someone like you or Steve or whatever should kind of show me the ropes, helps get you to the point where now I’m starting become passionate about deer hunting. Just because you knowing you’re on the right track, helps you take the next. It gives me more confidence that “Okay, I’m doing this thing the right way. I can have success doing this”, and it’s not when you see the glamour shots on social media, of guys with just monsters. Even that, I killed my first buck last year, and it was a little six pointer. And I could not have been more excited about the way you laugh, about the text I sent you because I was like, I wasn’t cold, but my whole body is shaking and it was it was so cool. It was an awesome experience, and I’m not going to lie. You get online and you see these guys shoot bigger, deer I can’t help but just be a little jealous of that. My deer wasn’t the biggest, but you know it was special to me. But it’s not that, deer. You know what I mean. Your deer tasted better I guarantee it. I hope so. I think it did. Yeah, just because of what went into it. And, I don’t know, Social media’s probably another conversation about how what its effects are on the hunting industry. I just think the barrier to entry for me was this thing was so big, so robust. I don’t even know where to start. So why start? I started hunting deer is an adult, so I’m one of those people you’re talking about.
Connor is the Marketing Manager for American Hunting Lease Association and has been with them for over 5 years. Connor lives in Indiana and enjoys the outdoors whether it's fishing, riding his quad or sitting around the campfire. When not working or outdoors, you can find him rooting for his sports teams.