The 2014 Winter Olympics remind us of just how close the world games are to outdoor sports.
The Winter Olympics are wrapping up in Sochi, Russia. Every year, there are plenty of chances for us hunters to consider how our lives are, in a way, paralleled in the excitement and grandeur of the Olympic Games.
Sure, our hunts don’t generally get global television coverage or glamorous opening ceremonies, but even still, here are 10 ways in which hunters experience something akin to the Olympian lifestyle.
View the slide show for all the Olympic-hunting connections.
1. Sometimes, it’s all about the teamwork
The Olympics are this big, symbolic event of worldwide cooperation and competition. They’re also a place for individual athletes to make their mark and establish legendary status in the process, from Michael Phelps to Usain Bolt to Mohammad Ali. But while we very often watch the Olympics to watch individual athletes regale themselves in glory – and while we often hunt to do the same for ourselves – sometimes, it really is all about the teamwork. Whether it’s a powerful Olympic victory built by a team with no real stars (the still-chilling 1980 “Miracle on Ice”) or a behemoth buck landed with the help of two or three friends, there’s something about finding strength in brotherhood and teamwork that can’t be duplicated by an individual victory.
2. Sportsmanship is always important…even if you’re up against strangers for the victory
Some of the best moments of the Olympics don’t come from watching our nation’s athletes win their events, but from watching them lose. Being able to accept defeat graciously is something that athletes learn with age and maturity, and seeing some of our athletic representatives offer congratulatory sentiments to sportsmen and women from other countries – whether in the form of a handshake, a hug, or a nod – is powerful stuff.
Even better, watching United States team members support one another, even when one finds victory and others do not, is a reminder of both sportsmanship and teamwork as key facets of the Olympic scene. Adopting similar gracious sportsmanship will make your hunts more fulfilling. Show support for your friends when they bag a big buck and you go home empty-handed; congratulate other hunters when you see them hit a milestone; and don’t trespass on someone’s property.
3. “Give up” should never in your vocabulary
Olympians don’t get to the international stage by being willing to surrender. In fact, most of these athletes will fight hard right until the moment that it’s time to go home. Even Olympians who go home empty-handed can rest easy knowing that they gave their best and left everything they had on the table. The best hunters are those who do the same, the ones who will try dozens of different strategies in the pursuit of a big buck and the ones who will be out in the woods until the clock strikes 12 for hunting season if it means the difference between filling their tag and failing to do so.
4. Setting goals is important
Athletes competing in the Olympics come from all sorts of different countries and walks of life, but they all have at least one similarity: they are people who have never been afraid of dreaming big and setting monumental goals for themselves. Those goals serve as the fuel that drives athletes through the games, the gasoline that allows them to keep their eyes on the prize until it is within their grasp. Hunters benefit from the same sorts of self-motivation, whether their goal is about landing a big buck, scoring a certain number of turkeys, or hunting in every state.
5. Learning from your failures is important, too
Goals aren’t always enlightening because of their success; on the contrary, we arguably learn more from our goals when we fail to achieve them. Olympic athletes who can lose one heat of a race only to come back and win a more important one, or miss the podium in one event only to win gold in another, know all about failure and how it can reignite their will to win. Hunters who miss shots, lose deer, or suffer dry seasons learn a lot of the same things, using their failures to improve themselves for next time.
6. The battle is often won in the preparation stages
It’s funny – we watch the Olympics to see some of the world’s best athletes compete with one another and prove themselves supreme. However, we aren’t seeing a big part of the battle that leads to those competitions and victories. Sure, a lot can be decided in the space of a race or a game, but you can bet that most of the work was done long before the games. Olympic medals are won and lost in the practice and preparation stages, and the same is true for big bucks and other hunting trophies. A hunter who spends months preparing for hunting season – scouting his territory, setting up trophy cameras, practicing with her bow or rifle – is going to find a lot more success than the hunter who pulls his gear out for the first time on the morning of Opening Day.
7. Paying attention to your overall health can make all the difference
From adopting very rigid dietary standards to keeping to a well-defined workout routine, it’s a given that Olympic athletes pay very close attention to the overall health of their bodies. Hunters who work to eat well and stay physically fit will be rewarded with more enjoyable and successful hunting experiences.
8. Thinking about your competitors can drive your own success
Ever wanted to skip a day of marksmanship practice or to stay in bed rather than head out into the cold morning for a hunt? Adopt the Olympic strategy of thinking of what your competitors are doing while you are slacking off and taking it easy. Just because you want to take a day off doesn’t mean that everyone else will do the same.
9. There’s might be a big trophy waiting at the end of it all
For Olympians, the big prize is a gold medal (and nationwide glory). For hunters, it’s a big buck and commendations from friends and family. Not quite the same, but close enough. I’d take a freezer full of venison and a trophy pair of antlers over a slab of metal any day.
10. There are people who will appreciate your victories
When an Olympian wins a gold or silver medal, they are roundly respected and appreciated for bringing glory to their nation. As a hunter, it’s hard to expect recognition in such a widescreen vein, but your family will appreciate you for providing food and nourishment.
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