Written by Bowhunting.com contributor Brady Miller
Respect…not a word that comes to mind very often when someone starts talking about bowhunting mule deer, but a word of great importance nevertheless. Over the years, bowhunting mule deer has taken me full circle with the importance of preparation both physically and mentally, tuning of equipment, proper research, and scouting. Bowhunting any species of game will ultimately test you and force you to give 110% on your hunt. Are you ready? I often look back at this species and how it has changed the way I bowhunt. With winter in full force across most of the west, now is the time to prepare for your next hunt. It starts and ends with you, so why not take the time to ensure you will have success this fall.
Attention to detail is one thing that has changed the author’s success rate.
I frequently find out the hard way. And often times in my head, the hard way seems like the right way, about how much respect must be given to the subtle thoughts and the habitat preferences of a mature mule deer buck. I am not one that enjoys a so called “easy” hunt. Yes, just like everyone else, I crave success. This drive to succeed leads me to staying up late at night dissecting maps, checking out weather patterns, working out, tuning my bow and working on my form to the point where most might say I am a little crazy when it comes to bowhunting. If you have ever met me…I guess you’d agree!
Putting forth the efforts of scouting, reading books, checking internet forums, reading magazine articles on what makes an animal’s mind tick, what causes that animal to do what it does on a daily basis, why it is where it is, and so on, gets my blood flowing. To be a successful bowhunter, you must apply stringent research into knowing all you can know about your intended target before you even step foot in the field. I would love to tag out on opening weekend, but the memories and experiences I gain from a long hunt will last a lifetime, and further prepare me for future bowhunting adventures.
Extraordinary AnimalTo me, mule deer are a special animal to bowhunt. They are able to live in some of the most vast and rugged terrain around, from a remote alpine basin in the backcountry, to the difficult terrain of steep and endless coulee country…mule deer live and thrive in them all. These animals are able to outsmart crafty predators in the mountains, and travel great distances from summer to winter ranges. The moment you stop giving a mule deer respect, is the moment you will have to hike back up that canyon to your glassing location dragging your feet in disgust over a lost opportunity. It is for this reason, that I stress the importance of being physically fit and almost more importantly being mentally prepared.
When things get tough, and they will, sometimes all you need is a little reminder to help you stay the course.
Come Prepared Mental preparation is of great importance to me. I was on a hunt in 2008 where I basically gave up, things didn’t seem to be going my way, I couldn’t locate a good buck, and when I finally did, I blew the one stalk opportunity I had. I gave up with three days left on my hunt and the moment I reached my truck I regretted quitting early. After that, I knew I needed to make some changes; I never wanted to feel like that again, I had to work harder and stay positive and mentally prepare myself more. I truly feel that this particular hunt changed my life as a bowhunter.
I took it upon myself to take things a step further a few years ago…as a result the words “NO REGRETS” embrace the backside of my bow riser. I placed it there after a full winter of devoting time, energy, and commitment into becoming the bowhunter I wanted to be, and the bowhunter I envisioned I could be. The meaning and importance of that saying is deeper than the words I am writing to all my bowhunting friends here today. In short, I have no regrets in the way I bowhunt, no regrets in how hard I hunt, how far I hike, how steep and deep a mountain canyon is or the elevation climbed, no regrets with my weight lifting and workout sessions…in the end I just want to give it my all. I want to know that I did my best and will have no regrets when I return to my vehicle after a long hunt.
Once your tag is punched you will quickly forget about the adversity you endured leading up to the shot.
Growing up, my dad was great about providing motivation; one of his key sayings was “Work hard, play hard.” This phrase could not be truer when applied to bowhunting. To me it’s always been about proving to myself that perseverance and hard work pay off.
ConclusionIf you are up for the challenge, I seriously suggest that you take the time to prepare both physically and mentally for your hunt. We all need to eliminate the variables that may cause something to go badly on one of our hunts. Whether it is controlling how we tune our bow, scouting, or getting in shape…it is up to us as hunters to give respect to ourselves, and maximize our bowhunting potential. The definition of respect is ”an act of giving particular attention” and for bowhunters I feel that this definition should mean a whole lot more