Patience and perseverance are more important in my mind than tracking, shooting ability and prescouting.
At one time, I knew a fellow who hunted for 50 years and had never seen a deer in the wild. He said he was jinxed, and his patience was wearing thin.
He would go out in the morning at first light but after a short time he would just shake his head and go back to the house. He was sure he wouldn’t see anything. He never had. I’m pretty sure he never did. He was done before he ever started. So even if you are patient and persevere, I guess you should be confident, too.
In the 1970s, nothing could stop us from hunting and finding deer. I remember when Eileen and I went out during a warm rainy spell before dawn only to have it turn to freezing rain before noon. We stayed out despite these conditions and Eileen’s raincoat soon froze to her. She was not stopping, despite the cold and stinging ice balls falling from that leaden sky.
Patience and perseverance were on our side that day and looking back at that picture of her in that frozen raincoat with a nice eight-point buck reminded me that even on that 4th day of the season, when it changed to freezing rain, we persevered. I don’t remember exactly which buck I shot that day but looking back I remember my toes crying, “Take me in.” When we got in, we both were happy and exhausted from the cold. It was such a great evening when we got both deer in and ourselves out of that freezing rain.
One day, as I walked along on a local farm, my footsteps crunching along in the deep crust of snow, it seemed a hopeless case. You just couldn’t be quiet. I stopped on top of a rock sticking out of the snow and stayed there. Eventually the snow softened up and I could move freely again. But it would be this spot on this miserable day where I would see a good buck that led me to a long hunt that year. He was sneaky but he still crunched like I did coming in and I took a shot from my rock. I ended up shooting at this buck twice that year. The second shot would be the winner. I persevered and tracked him for quite a way that same day to get that second shot. He hangs on my wall to this day.
Sometimes, it is perseverance just to get up and out these days, but I do still enjoy going. I was out only once over the weekend during the early senior license special hunting season Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. My son, Pat, came over to make sure I got out one day during this special hunt. We went out into the field, me with my .257 Roberts and Pat with all my other gear and a chair. It was so nice to have a chance to still go hunting at my age. It felt good to be out and even good to be cold and rained on. Sometimes I miss the ice balls in my mustache and the chill in the air. I didn’t see a thing, but I still felt I persevered. As we walked across that big wide field to the spot I like to hunt, I felt alive. The fresh air, the excitement and desire were still there. And my son was patient. Sometimes, the reward isn’t the big buck but just a good day out in the field or woods.
I heard of one good archery buck so far this year. Heidi told me about her husband, Bob Sweany, who got a nice 8-point archery buck. The buck was taken in Deemston Borough. Congratulations. Your wife is very proud of you. Anybody else persevere?