Are You Hunting Too Much?

It’s been said that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. But is there honestly such a thing as hunting too much? After all, the key to punching tags is spending as much time as possible in the treestand, right? I want to challenge you this month as we roll deeper into hunting season to hunt smarter. Watch for the signs that you’re hunting too much. Your family, wife, and the whitetails you pursue will certainly let you know when you’re stepping across the line of hunting entirely too much.

Pressure to Produce

Turn on one of the several hunting channels on TV, and you’ll quickly find networks full of shows and hosts that are obviously struggling with the pressure to produce. Their actions, followed by excuses, are enough to make you sick. Hunting standards rise and fall around whether or not the producer has enough footage to “make a hunt.” But let’s be honest. We’re all susceptible to it to some degree. We see our buddies and other people on social media outlets with their success photos, and we feel the pressure within us to produce some punched tags of our own. So we hunt harder. We climb into the tree more often. We hunt even when the wind direction says no.  The problem is that our reckless passion to produce can have a devastating impact on the very critters we pursue. The pressure to produce eventually catches up with all of us.  

Think about it. You hunt harder and harder, yet experience less and less deer activity. Whitetail deer are the slickest big game critters in the country. They will not tolerate sloppiness from hunters. You must continue to hunt smart with each trip you make to the woods. Remember, hunting harder does not necessarily mean hunting more often. It means hunting better, smarter, and making the most of your hours on stand. When deer activity on your property seems to be growing slim, ask yourself what role you’ve played in causing that to happen by adding unnecessary pressure through your desire to produce.

Bowhunter in the fieldThe pressure to produce year in and year out can cause hunters to lose sight of the bigger picture, which often upsets the delicate balance between family and pursuing our passions.

The Cost of Sacrifice

My buddy, Zeke Pipher, tells a story in his book, Man on the Run, about an old hunter that was nearing the end of his life. The old man loved to share hunting stories and show off his hunting photos when Zeke would visit with him. But sadly, these trips down memory lane were often cut short by the brutal reminder of how the old man had sacrificed time with his kids in his effort to be successful in the deer woods. Despite all the trophies in photos and on the wall, he found himself full of regret at the end of a long life.

Let me be clear when I say this….our kids don’t give a rip about all the bulls, bucks, and limits of ducks we kill if it means we aren’t spending time with them. I cringe when I hear guys in the industry boast about all the sacrifice they make to be successful in the woods, as if they are some kind of rock star. I honestly don’t care what equipment you shoot, how well you shoot, how many days you spend in the gym preparing for the hunt, or how many trophies you have hanging on the wall…if it cost you your kids, you lose. I don’t want to be that loser.

I’ll never forget what my daughter said one morning after I spent a late night out on the lake bowfishing. As we sat and ate breakfast I excitedly showed her photos of the big fish we had shot the night before. Her response? “That’s great Dad, but you weren’t here to tuck me into bed.” Those words cut deep. I was speechless.

Are you hunting too much? Just ask your kids. Their face will tell you the truth the next time you tell them you’re headed out to hunt.  

Bucks Vs. Brides

Of all the people that can best answer the question, “Am I hunting too much?” few will shoot straight with you like your spouse. I’m a lucky man. I married a beautiful woman that supports my hunting career. She didn’t grow up in a hunting family yet she knows hunting is way more than just a sport or hobby for me. But at least once a season she graciously lets me know that I’ve been hunting too much. I can usually pick up on it without her even having to utter a word. It usually comes about the third week of November after weeks of pounding it hard in search of rutty bucks. It’s at that time I realize that I’ve allowed my passion for bowhunting bucks to win out over the pursuit of the one person on this earth that matters most.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a guy at the end of a long day at a hunting tradeshow years ago. With tears in his eyes he shared of how he had come home from hunting camp and caught his wife messing around with another man. When I asked him how long he’d been in hunting camp and away from his wife, he cluelessly answered, “Three months?” While this guy’s absence from home doesn’t excuse his wife’s behavior, the bottom line is he was failing at home. No buck on this earth is worth our marriage. Again, no matter how good a season you have and how many buck tags you punch, if it costs you your marriage, you lose. Are you hunting too much? Just ask your husband or wife. They can quickly help you figure that one out.

This season has the potential to be the best of your hunting career. Great opportunities and killer equipment are within reach like never before. As always, you can count on Bowhunting.com to be your go-to resource for bowhunting gear, tips, technique, and info. But if you’re looking for long-term strategies for success, both in the woods and at home, I challenge you to answer the question for yourself, “Am I hunting too much?” 

Comments

  1. Well written and to the point. Thank you for pointing out what I (we) don't stop to look at. I nees to look at the sign left at home as closely as we do in the woods. Hunting and woodlines can be replaced family can not.

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  2. Brodie Swisher says:

    Thanks for taking the time to read it, John!

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  3. I gave up a chance at fishing pro a couple different times because of my family. There are times I slightly regret it until I see my wife and family. I have 4 friends who fish flw as pro anglers and they do what they do for money but wish they were home..I'm glad I am!!

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  4. I needed to read this. I appreciate you writing this article.

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  5. dead on

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  6. John Oates says:

    So you guys don't really mean it when you say, "Bow Hunt or Die!"? I kid of course. Thank you for writing this truth filled article.

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  7. Outstanding post-sheds light on what really matters in life, our families and our relationships.

    Thank you for being BOLD and writing this-we all need to read this (including myself)

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  8. good job on that one…

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  9. Great post!

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  10. You are dead on!!!…just hope my wife doesn't read this.

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  11. Autosear says:

    Gotta get the kids as excited as you are!

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  12. Deerslayer says:

    From the kids point of view I agree but from the marriage perspective I am not all for it. Reason being is because the hunting season is only a few months out of the year. The wife can go run around on him, but instead of hunting the male half could be doing worse things like bar hopping, drinking/drugs and whore chasin as well. The key here of course is a balance but communication is the key.

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    • Sportmans’s wife says:

      Hunting season turned into fishing season…then it was duck, squirrel, hog and spear fishing. I’m a stay at home wife (with a bachelors degree) with 4 children of whom I homeschool. I grew up on a dairy farm and was used to my dad always working. I don’t mind my hubby hunting nor fishing but when priority of vacation days for 20 years involves 2 weeks of hunting and no planned time to vacay with me, we have a priority imbalance. Guys, you do a great thing hunting, providing for your families but PLEASE don’t be mindless and think your girl LOVES that you put no thought into spoiling her at least once a year. She’ll resent you and cringe at the sound of the ‘h’ word. Don’t justify the whole ‘at least he’s not bar-hopping…’. She’s just wanting him to give her some of that attention!

      Reply
  13. Dennis Bettencourt says:

    Great Article! As a dad and die hard bowhunter I think it is important to have balance. Very cool that you wrote this article during hunting season when most of us are in the thick of it. I gaurentee that you have saved a few families with this piece. Nice Work and Good Luck this Season

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  14. Jason Wilborn says:

    Excellent article that is a true tongue in cheek look at family, our hobbies and the outdoor industry culture.

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  15. Three months in deer camp? That ridiculous

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  16. J Scheer says:

    I think this is a well, and plainly put as can be. I am that fortunate woman, having come to hunting later in life, who has a wonderful partner some day husband if he asks nicely), who shares the passion of the sport.Children are grown, and though i have many animals, some of whom need timed medications, I revolve my hunting around them, and him.

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  17. Leon Theiss says:

    I wish

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  18. BestRecurveBowSpot.c says:

    Great way to put things into perspective. I'm sure my wife would agree. Great post.

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  19. Ross Thomas says:

    Great read and to the point. I recently had this point drilled home to me in a big way.

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  20. I hunt as hard as I work ,it is all for my family thats how we keep our freezers full and the family feed with Gods creatures, I also take them with me on every hunting adventure, unless its a winter tag or extream mountain pack in hunt!Include your wife and kids its an awsome experience

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  21. Great write up. I'm getting ready to get married no kids yet and thank god she's a understanding woman. I hunt hard and long in archery, at work at 4am just to put as much time in as possible. But I'm very weather watchfull I hunt the right winds for the right stands, never try to hunt the same area 2 nights in a row or to pressure them beer. So for luck I got the best of both worlds till kids come along

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  22. Like to Hunt? Don't ever get married.

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  23. Funny to run across this article now. I was just thinking today how I had allowed hunting to cause me to fall behind on chores at home. I also chose to hunt last Friday instead of going to my son's last regular season football game of the year. Something I've never done before. So today I caught up on chores, spent time with the family and decided to take several days off from hunting just to get things back in perspective.

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  24. Over it after 10 yea says:

    I'm not a hunter so will admit to not understanding the love of this activity. When I met my dear love he was (and still is!) a pro fisherman but never mentioned hunting. I learned to like fishing

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  25. This is so true you have to find a balance during hunting season I find my husband failing at this and for us hunting and all of what it entails goes from August to February… 6 months of the year is becoming too much for me.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    As a wife who is at the end of her rope with her hunting husband I appreciate this article. I don’t mind my husband hunting but once he gets a deer it doesn’t end. He goes to neighboring states to hunt as well. Is this normal? Do other hunters continue to hunt after you’ve already got one or two for the season? We use the meat but we already have enough to last a year yet he continues. To me it seems more like an addiction that will soon end this marriage.

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    • kkkkkkkkkkk says:

      Of course, Im the same way! Its a bad addiction that sometimes I think about how I might of made something in life if I didnt hunt, but i WOuldnt trade it for anything

      Reply
  27. My boyfriend is an advid and successful hunter. We’ve been together for 2 1/2 years and have blended our family. He has 2 children (13yr/boy and 8yr/girl. My daughter is 14 and I share custody with her father.) The home we have needs a lot of work. Which he can do, when he is not working, hunting, or too tired. I primarily take care of all of children’s schedules, school work, housework, and help him with his business.
    He works and daydreams of hunting, if he’s not in the woods already. It makes his time very limited at home and our family. He son failed 7th grade last year. He has poor grades currently. His father is aware, but that doesn’t hold him back from wanting to go as often as possible to the woods. It’s October 18. So far he has killed 4 does and his son killed a buck. I’m hoping we’ll be able to pay for the processing of these deer, but he’s only thinking about how due he is for a big buck and scouting and rehanging tree stands every chance possible. It’s created problems with us arguing and me finding acceptance with who he is and what he is asking out of me. I wish I could turn off the stress and anxiety of life as easily as he can, but I’m left to run the house and take care of the not so glamorous things that he can escape. My daughter started staying with her father more. That is heartbreaking. I will help him with his physical flooring business all week so he can hunt over the weekend. I am repaid with him working long nights that comes in between one on one time with my daughter and myself. I get plenty with the other two as they are here more. 🙂
    Should he be more understanding or is this when I should keep bending for him? He is a good man. But I am good too. Sacrificing 4-6 months of the year seems like nothing I could never ask of anyone, but the loneliness and depression that turns to bitterness and resentment is waying heavily and getting to be too much for either of us to bear.
    We’ve built a lot out of nothing. We’ve been through a lot. But I don’t want to resent or be resented. Excepting his hunting seems like it is killing a part of me and making me depressed. And I feel worse to keep him from his joy. I am lost. Does it get better or easier? Am I over reacting? I am going crazy trying to keep being strong and don’t know if it’s my ego that I have to get over or if these are legit complaints that I have. He’s missing memories with out family, but is it really missing if we are the only ones with a problem over his absence? Mainly me? Thank you in advance with any response.
    Pretty desperate mother/spouse

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  28. Anonymous says:

    This is worth re-posting front and center on the homepage.

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    • Anonymous 2 says:

      Agree with anonymous. Perfect timing to put this front of the home page. Save some heartaches.

      Reply
  29. Erika Walker says:

    Well, I asked my husband of 7 years to skip out on hunting and stay home with me one morning and he said no. He told me, “if you make me choose between hunting or you, you will lose”.

    Reply

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