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Building from Experience

As I went to bed early that November night at deer camp, I said to the guys “Time for me to crash, I’m going to kill a good buck in the morning”. I took a little razzing for the statement but I was confident the morning would produce, and it did. My 17th buck hit the dirt that morning. For once it was a hunt where I didn’t second guess anything. But getting to that point of confidence and skill didn’t come overnight. Years in the woods chasing whitetails had prepared me for that moment.

Bowhunting grows every year, especially today with so much knowledge at everyone’s fingertips. Combine that with a sea of equipment readily available and it’s not hard to get in the woods and start chasing game. But as a new hunter, what are your goals? Industry trends have inadvertently pushed many of us to chase the biggest animals possible. While that may be cool, if you don’t have some kills under your belt, you may fall apart when the moment of truth presents itself on the big one.

20 years ago as a young hunter it was said to me by a mentor “the only way to get good at hunting deer, is by hunting and killing deer”. While that advice may sound blunt, there’s a fair amount of truth to it. Getting busted by an old nanny doe a few times can be a humbling experience. That fork horn or spike buck catching your movement and looking right up at you,

when you swear you were standing still, will make you wonder how they saw you.

Everyone is going to have different goals. If your goal is to chase down the biggest buck in your area your first season, go for it but you may be starting on a hard road. You’ve read all of the articles, listened to all of the podcasts, watched all the tv shows, all of which are valuable. However, experience in the woods is much more important. Experience will build that confidence and confidence is the key.

So maybe hold off on chasing those big ones right away, take a few seasons to focus on small bucks and does. May not sound exciting, but make sure your safety harness is on, the excitement can be overwhelming. Certainly those successes are something to be proud of. No one can tell you how to use your tag, no one can tell you what your goals should be. But you don’t go straight from your first tee-ball game to game 7 of the World Series. The same holds true for bow hunting. Anything successful is a series of mistakes and lessons learned from those mistakes.

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