When I was a fledgling whitetail hunter, my father gave me a few wise words that have encouraged me throughout the years.
He said, “Son, if you want to be more successful than other hunters, remember these things:
“First, always be optimistic; your attitude will directly affect your success.
“Secondly, stay in the stand longer than the other guy. Stick it out as long as you can stand it, even in uncomfortable weather, and when other hunters are coming out for lunch.
“Try to stay alert at all times. This means from the time you leave the truck, walking to and from your stand, through the dead hours, until the time you unload your rifle and get back in the truck to go home. Expect a shot opportunity when you least expect it.
“Finally, no matter how bored you get — when you’ve seen nothing for hours — DON’T GIVE UP!”
I listened to my father, but for as many times as he warned me not to let my guard down, I still had to learn the hard way.
Until I began to apply this knowledge, I saw a lot of white flags waving goodbye.
It took years to realize a few things, like the fact that deer don't only exist near my stands. They can be anywhere!
I can't tell you how many times I got bored in the stand, gave up, climbed down, began stalking, only to jump a buck on the way out. Sometimes that happened right next to where I’d parked the truck, just like Dad warned!
I also learned that traveling to and from my stand was often the time I would mess up the most. My successes seemed to come when I remained in hunting mode at all times.
Remaining optimistic and staying in the stand longer than most people has paid off greatly. This is especially true in public access areas where other hunters kept deer moving throughout the day. You never know when or where they'll spook a buck past you.
One of the best bucks on my wall came 20 minutes after a group of loud hunters walked past my stand. I thought my hunt was over and was about to pack up and leave. But my father's words came back to me. I took a deep breath, stuck it out and nailed that buck, even after I thought the day was ruined.
His words might seem simple, but they have shaped me in so many ways, and not just with hunting white-tailed deer, but also, as a man.
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