Being new to the Bowhunting.com Blog, I must admit to you that I am absolutely ecstatic for the 2011 season. But before we can get to that, it's important to also understand where I came from and so with that goal in mind, I must recount to you the tale of 2010. My best hunting season ever.
Now as most hunters' seasons begin, mine was filled with anticipation, hope and high expectations. I had spent months preparing treestands, food plots and gear with only one goal in mind. To harvest my first Pope & Young whitetail. Living and hunting in Michigan, that is no easy task, but after several years of outdoor writing and hobnobbing with the who's who of midwest whitetail hunting, I began to believe that it was something I could easily accomplish and also necessary for my own continued success in the industry. I had trips planned in November to hunt Illinois, Pennsylvania and Nebraska in addition to my home state of Michigan, so I felt that the odds were certainly stacked in my favor.
But as we all know, when it comes to hunting, things rarely go just as planned. And in my case, they didn't come even close to what I planned. I in fact not only missed on my goal of shooting a P & Y, but I didn't shoot any buck at all!
So how could I possibly call this my best hunting season ever? Well to be honest, I wouldn't have categorized 2010 this way at first, but after several weeks of reflection I've come to realize that this past season represented something much larger and more important than the killing or lack thereof of a monster whitetail.
2010 was in fact my best season of hunting ever and the reasons why are numerous. And mostly this is the case because the 2010 season was one of tremendous growth and opportunity. I in fact have never had the opportunity, until this year, to hunt in areas where I had a genuine opportunity at mature bucks. Growing up hunting in Northern Michigan, you would be lucky to see a couple doe and a fork horn during an entire week of hunting, but this year I had access to a much higher quality of land. That being said my opportunities were even more numerous when I was able to set up trips out of state to big buck meccas. Never before have I climbed into a tree stand and legitimately expected to see a 140"+ buck. But it happened a lot this year and that is pretty exciting. In addition to the areas I can hunt, the time I had to hunt also multiplied exponentially. Due to a new job, for the first time in years, I was able to dedicate some serious time to hitting the woods and it led to me putting 85+ plus sits on stand. When you spend that much time in a tree, you're bound to learn something. And the lessons I learned were just as much about myself as they were about deer hunting.
As my opportunities increased with time and access, my expectations and goals naturally evolved as well. This was in fact my first year that I set high standards for what deer I would harvest and I knew I would not settle for anything less. This led to me passing on probably 15 or more bucks that I had legitimate shot opportunities at over the course of the year. This is something I have never done before, but now I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. Letting a deer go has become one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of my season and I'm sure this will continue to evolve as I do.
In most people's eyes my 2010 season would be considered a bust, a joke, or a failure. But when I look back on the growth I've achieved, the memories I've accumulated and the lessons I've learned, I can't think of this season as anything other than the best ever.