Archery hunting off the beaten path is something I love, I came from absolute ground zero. I had hunted deer with a muzzleloader with my dad and his friends a total of about 4 years, they hunted from the cab of the truck in the morning and afternoon. The middle of the day was spent at the cabin having nice hot meals, watching movies and taking a nap. I would make them stop and let me hike but my success was always minimal, everything I know has been learned the hard way or by pouring over books and forums. I began searching for a bow blindly after breaking my leg my senior year, when luckily one was lent to me by my dads friend. I bought a target and arrows and began to realize how much of a challenge it was, quickly falling in love! The next year I bought an archery elk tag, first ever elk tag and obviously first archery tag.
Even before starting into hunting I was known for REALLY bad luck, our entire family is covered with it to the point our motto is “if it wasn’t for bad luck we’d have none at all.” My luck has been nothing but painful in my hunting endeavor and even though I have tried to make things work it’s always bit me in the arse. The odd thing though was I didn’t seem to care when it came to hunting, sure I’d be bitter for an hour maybe but I was always ready for the next trip. I loved the preseason scouting, practicing with my bow, and just “being out there”, yet this year I’ve lost almost all of that. I started off the season strong but bad luck made its appearance and I didn’t even get to draw back on either of my spring tags and I blew a transmission apart driving home from Idaho bear hunting. So here I sit, exactly a month away from the opening date of archery in Utah and the only tag I have is an OTC archery elk tag. I didn’t draw any tags in Utah or Wyoming and thanks to my transmission costs coupled with the costs of closing on my house going out of state OTC is almost not probable. To add salt to the wound today I went online to check my vacation I had scheduled, I was planning to set it up for the end of Utah’s archery season and about the middle of Idaho’s, only to realize that I accidently selected the wrong month and now have days off before the seasons even begin…….
I’ve switched from shooting every day, scouting most of my days off and pouring over gear weekly to barely getting around to any of it in a month. I’ve been working on my transmission plus some side jobs for friends, getting stuff together and organized for buying the house, spending time with family during back to back reunions, plus trying to keep a social life with my friends who usually don’t see me this time of year…. Basically I have done a 180 from previous seasons but I’m not regretting the way I’ve spent the time lately. I have yet to pack into my backcountry honey holes and haven’t even attempted to make another trip to Idaho in search of bear or elk, unsure if I can even afford make it up there to hunt…. So what now, what do I do this close to the season opener, how can I hope to fill tags with so little previous success, what do I really think is going to happen to me this season?!
The answer isn’t simple, but the simple answers are usually reserved for questions not really worth asking. First off I try to fix my vacation then I step it up, I get back in a groove, I find ways to make things happen when the season opens, I come into my battle completely blind. No clue what animals hide in the holes I attempt to hunt, no goals on where I should be or animals to go after and no promises to myself of what I can accomplish. In short I’m starting back at ground zero. I’m starting this season similar to how I started my very first archery season, with blind passion for the outdoors and a hope that I can fill a tag. It’s a weird experience to feel like I’m hunting for the first time again, to struggle to settle my pin in because of the excitement of watching that arrow fly, to be nothing but hopeful for the upcoming season. Normally this time of the year I’m worried someone has found my spot, patterned my buck better, ran the animals I was watching out of the basin, or somehow ruined everything I worked so hard towards. This year I feel no pressure, no stress (minus the money thing of course), and most of all I feel great about it. I have pushed myself so hard, each year buckling down more, only to come out empty handed, upset, and cursing my bad luck.
Back to the basics: fun, hopeful, driven, and happy with the chance to try and fill tags….. Maybe it was time for some downtime, and who knows….. Maybe this will be my year!
Next year however….. WE RAGE.