It is that time of year again here in the Midwest that gives me the same feeling I had when I was nine years old on December 24th, and I had begged Santa for some new He-Man action figures, in one word...anticipation. I love whitetail archery season here in my home state of Ohio. We have beautiful deer and great whitetail weather in the Northwest corner of Ohio.
If you are like me, you have been shooting the bow, moving stands, hanging cameras, and walking the woods. However, as I prep for this upcoming season, I want to reflect and ask myself an important question. A question I encourage you to ask yourself as well.
That question is, “What do I need to do differently this season”.
It is always essential in hunting and in life, to evaluate what you are doing and determine if it is working or needs to be tweaked. Here is a list of 6 things I am doing differently this season that may help you.
1. Shoot a deer.
I did not harvest a deer last year, and I’d like to change that this season. I know this seems like an obvious choice of things to change, but I want to list it as a goal. In our neck of the woods, it is easy to get sucked into “waiting for the right deer” or “I’m not shooting any does early, but I will once the rut is over;” Well.. it turns out the right deer never came, and the doe didn’t show up post-rut. So I’m eating tag soup.
2. Take my kids more.
I have four kids ranging from 6 up to 14, and if I let them, one would tag along every time with me. Sadly, I say “no” too often. I feel like it does hinder goal #1 a little at times. There are many questions and noises that come along with taking a 6-year-old boy into the woods. I’m just committed to being ok with that, even if it means goal #1 doesn’t happen. This leads to the next thing I want to do differently.
3. Won't get upset when I can’t sit in the woods because of family activities.
I know...I sound like a baby. However, if you are like me, you get slightly annoyed when your wife plans family pictures during a prime hunting window. I feel my blood pressure rising when I’m sitting at a local high school football game that I didn’t even have a kid playing in, but my kids want to go. Life is too short, and my kids won’t be with me forever. I need not to see this as a burden but as a blessing. (Also, if I take them to the woods with me, maybe they won’t ask to do other things...two birds...one stone).
4. Take photos.
I’m also a bit of a photography nerd, and this year I want to take my good camera into the woods and photograph deer I do not want to shoot. My kids love seeing the deer that I tell them I saw, and this is just an enjoyable way to capture that moment and be reminded of the beauty that is the creation of God.
5. Be okay with short hunts.
Sometimes I have not hunted because I couldn’t hunt the entire time I wanted to. This year I will sit even if I can only sit for 2 hours. Why not? Worst case scenario, I get some photos or simply some quiet time in the woods.
6. Shoot a deer.
I really want to shoot a deer this year.
My list might be different from your list, and that is fine. We have different goals, family situations, geographical locations, and time availability. However, I encourage you to take a few minutes, sit down, and think about what you need to do differently this hunting season. Make a plan, and put it into action. Happy hunting!
Michael Elkins is a husband and father of 4 who loves being in the outdoors.