These fifteen sensations make sportsmen and women tick: this is why we do it all.
There are so many reasons we hunt and fish; there isn’t enough time to list them all. Maybe the most basic of all is the feeling of getting back to our roots—the feeling that if we wanted to, we could sustain ourselves and our families by living off of the land.
At Wide Open Spaces, we post not only the best hunting and fishing information we can find, but camping and hiking as well. We do this in an effort to share knowledge, become better outdoorsmen, and even to entertain. But most of all, we do it because we want to share these sensations, the feelings we get from a successful hunt or excursion to the outdoors. Check out the best of the best, and then get your pencil ready so you can add more.
15. When your down rigger pops
There’s nothing like watching a release on a big fish. The rod rises by itself, but it can’t get anywhere because it’s caught in a storm of fin and power. Sometimes, the insanity of grabbing the rod and setting the hook comes with tripping over your partner and falling on your face.
14. Figure-8 muskie strike
Anyone who has been fortunate enough to have a muskie follow and even be able to attempt this maneuver can attest to the fact that it works. It’s one thing to feel the tremendous strike of any big Esox; it’s another to watch it happen right next to the boat.
13. Your first retrieve
Honestly from the first retrieve to the last, a good, well-trained dog is the epitome of partnership when it comes to the hunting experience. Whether you’re in the grouse woods or the duck blind, a pheasant field or a cut corn lot full of goose decoys, you’re in for one of the treats of life when she comes back with a mouthful of feathers for daddy.
12. Waking up with a view
The tent and all that comes with it is not just the camper’s domain: many of the best hunting and fishing experiences started the morning you woke up, looked out the flaps, and saw what was waiting out there for you.
11. Making it to the top
Hiking can change the brain for the better. The first time humans saw a mountain peak, we had to know what was up there. After putting on a pair of the best boots we could find, we were off. Being able to hike should never be taken for granted, as there are those out there that would love to join us, but can’t. Some are the source of inspiration. Which one are you?
10. When a plan comes together
Whatever it is you’re hunting, you scouted it out, looked for sign, figured the best tools you needed, and set up in the right place. Even the best hunters don’t just set up and have the game come running. Animals like turkeys, deer, and coyote, just to name a few, are altogether wily, wary, and tough to convince, but when they come walking (or even running) in, you did your job!
9. Ruffed grouse flushing
The thunderbird can go from zero to Mach I instantly. You thought you were ready, didn’t you? Even after hunting these audacious birds for a lifetime, the first flushes of the year absolutely unnerve me. Expect it to happen the most when you’re fighting through some scrub brush, bending over in the cover, looking left and they fly right (or vice versa), etc, etc.
8. Ducks swinging into the decoys
They hold duck calling competitions for a reason. Anybody can blast away on a call and hope for the best, but when you get their attention and they turn… you must have been practicing! Watching a group of simple mallards head for your spread, slow down, and set their wings is one of the best reasons ever to stomp into a smelly swamp at 4:00 A.M.
7. Finished gun dog on point
If I had a better picture, you would be seeing my girl Chase here. It took time, patience and practice, but between one outstanding trainer and myself, we brought out the best in a little pup that wanted nothing more than to “find the birdie.” When she got “hot,” I knew it right away, and when she locked up, there was never a doubt. It’s one of the best sensations there is in hunting.
6. Elk bugling
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to be in an aspen stand in Colorado or some other amazing place in the USA, you’ve had a tag, been on a ridge… then, out of a light fog, you hear it: a bull elk bugling. Talk about sensations up and down your spine! Now all you have to do is to get him into bow range.
5. A boss gobbler that’s on the way
There’s an old saying that if turkeys could smell, you’d never see one- ever. That may be true, but once you’ve done your scouting, set up like a pro, and used your calls correctly you’re on your way to success. Once you hear him gobbling in the distance it’s all on you and your call; when you realize that he’s closing that distance because he just screamed at you from 50 yards away through the cover- it’s on!
4. Topwater bassin’
Maybe someone else wouldn’t put this so high on the list, but after a lifetime of not only doing it, but also watching some of the most famous fishermen ever in the world get more excited by it than they would about winning the lottery, one gets the feeling that we can’t die until we’ve had just one more slam on a buzz bait, hula popper, or jitterbug.
3. Buck brawl
We’ve all seen the videos and pictures and read the stories, but until you’ve seen two mature bucks in an all-out brawl, for real, you haven’t lived. The lucky ones have been on stand when it happened right in front of them, and some of those have even harvested one of those deer. Two whitetails fighting for dominance is one of nature’s most exciting treasures.
2. Opening day
No one is more prepared for a craft than the deer hunting community. For some, it’s bow, and for some, it’s firearms season: whatever your pleasure, the night before is usually sleepless and you couldn’t care less. Not many people in this world can understand the joy of being in a tree 20+ feet off the ground long before the sun comes up. Now that it’s finally here, we couldn’t be more happy, and if that’s not the greatest sensation, I don’t know what is.
1. Watching them succeed
Maybe it’s the dad in me, or maybe the outdoorsman, but the first time I saw my son catch a fish was the greatest thing ever. Plinking the can was the second greatest. Somebody taught us to love the outdoors and everything in it, so we wanted to share that where we could. Once we saw the joy in their eyes, it brought a tear to ours. Seeing your kids succeed is the single greatest feeling in the world.
There are definitely a few things missing from this list, and you are certainly invited to add to it. Putting an ‘honorable mention’ section here would be fun, but then you wouldn’t have to think of more list items! Hopefully this season you will get to enjoy and experience some of these great sensations. Good luck and good hunting!