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Temper Your Expectations

How to avoid the post-hunt blues

We’ve all had that feeling. That feeling of something not working out the way we hoped. We had drawn a picture in our heads for how the day would go, and low and behold it didn’t happen that way. Getting up on time, grabbing coffee, and getting in the woods before the action started. As hunters I think we’re guilty of this more than most. Especially when we’re weekend warriors or are new to the sport. Working all week to get that day or two of chasing what we’ve been dreaming about. This is one of the easiest ways to lose our enjoyment of the outdoors.

This past Monday was the rifle deer opener here in Michigan. As I was driving to the farm I was thinking of my setup. Where I would sit, what places I was ‘sure’ would hold some mature bucks. I started to feel pressure and a ‘need’ to get a buck. The need to be successful as is all to common in today’s world; 'I must be successful; I must punch my tag.' I got to the farm later than I hoped, right as first light was breaking and I quickly grabbed my bag and loaded my gun as I headed down the trail.

I got to the first field and scanned for wildlife. Three does and a yearling, but no bucks. Better keep walking and make it to the blind I was planning to sit in. I quickly walked another quarter mile as silently as I could and got in the blind. Phew, made it. Breathing heavy and trying to regain my focus, it was finally game on. But as I sat there with my coffee, feeling like I finished the first leg of the race I started to wonder, why do I feel like I was just ‘crossing things off the list’ this morning? Why do I feel like each element of my day so far had just been items on a to-do list that just needed to be completed? I sat a bit longer and the sun started to peak over the trees. I cracked open the windows in the blind and the cool breeze hit me in the face as a light rain came down and personified the smell of the alfalfa field behind me. As I sat longer, two pairs of wood ducks and a mallard landed in the duck pond to my left. Two sandhill cranes landed in the field and I was able to watch them in great detail from 50 yards as they slowly worked across the field.

As the sun got higher and the day warmed up, my expectations I had put on myself slowly faded away. It was a great reminder that both in hunting and in life, our expectations can easily rob us of the joy that continually surrounds us. If we can remember to look up from our to-do lists, take some time to watch the sunrise, and keep our expectations in check, no matter the outcome we will enjoy the ride.

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