Whitetail hunting calls for more than just shooting skills.
Whether the question came at a family reunion or out on a date, chances are that it’s one that most of us have heard: “what is the most important skill for a deer hunter to possess?” It’s an interesting question, because many outsiders would assume that it has something to do with marksmanship or overall resourcefulness. Heck, some might even assume – jokingly or not, depending on your geographical location – that what sets you apart from the pack of other deer hunters is your seemingly limitless resistance to bitter cold temperatures or downright awful weather.
However, while shooting accuracy is important, and while resourcefulness can help you out of a sticky situation in the hunting field, there is one quality that towers above the rest when it comes to quantifying one’s success as a hunter: perseverance.
It’s simple, really. Every skill that comes with hunting experience, every hunting victory, every delicious venison meal, it all comes as a result of a hunter’s ability to be patient and to persevere.
Getting up early in the morning, day after day, only to throw on your camouflage and head out into the bitter cold for a few hours of hunting is difficult; it would be much easier to stay in your warm bed and sleep in. Spending hours at the shooting range, all in an effort to master the use of a new gun so that you can use it to kill deer, that’s difficult too; it would be significantly more enjoyable to head to stay home and watch the football game with the boys.
Perhaps above all, going through an entire hunting season filled with close calls, disappointments, and days of going home empty-handed is hard. It wears you down to exert so much of your effort on the hunting pursuit only to be awarded with missed shots, limited deer sightings, and the overpowering stench of failure. If you’ve experienced a hunting season where it seemed like nothing could go right, then you have probably considered giving up the sport entirely, whether because of frustration, fatigue, low self-esteem, or any other emotion. If you haven’t experienced a dry hunting season, don’t worry: one will find you eventually.
So how can a hunter deal with these failures and still enjoy the sport? The answer is as simple as a single word: persevere. Persevere even though your hunting season has left you bitter and upset with yourself. Persevere even though it’s cold and rainy and everyone else is going to be asleep for another two or three hours. Persevere even though you can’t seem to quite hit the bullseye with your rifle. Persevere even though your gear is breaking down and it would be easier to hang up your guns and call it a season. Quite simply, persevere. Good things will come of it.
It’s a fact of the sport that every hunter is going to face failure every once in awhile. Sometimes, that failure will hit in a plethora of ways all at once. What separates a great hunter from a mediocre one is the ability to shake off those failures off. A hunter who keeps his or her nose to the grindstone even when times get tough will eventually be rewarded with the buck of a lifetime or with a truly unforgettable hunting experience that reaffirms their love for hunting. You just have to stick around long enough to enjoy those triumphs.