By: Steve Wall

Have you ever had one of those years hunting when nothing seems to go your way?  As hunters, we know that there are going to be low and high points to every season.  It can be difficult at times to not let these low points discourage you.  If you can turn these low points into a learning experience and keep an upbeat attitude, you will find yourself to be a better hunter.  In the end, patience and persistence pays off!

The year 2015 has been one of these difficult years for me.  It started in the spring when I was unsuccessful in filling any of my Turkey tags.  Some days the birds were unresponsive and other days they just decided to go the other way.  My 2015 season reached its high point during the summer when I captured multiple bucks on my trail cameras.  These pictures and videos got my blood pumping for the upcoming season.

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My season hit rock bottom one weekend in late October.  I slipped out of work a little early on a Friday afternoon and headed straight to the woods.  I put on my gear and walked into my hunting location.  I strapped my climbing treestand to the tree and headed up.  I got to the top and all set up and noticed that my Tactacam video camera fell off of my bow on the way into the stand.  I climbed down immediately and slowly retraced my steps back to the truck.  I did not have any success in finding the camera.  I headed out earlier than normal the next morning to walk slowly with my flashlight to try to find the camera on my way into my stand.  Again, no luck.

Losing your hunting gear can definitely put a damper on your hunt, but my bad luck didn’t end there.  That morning about an hour after sun up a small buck made his way down a trail 20 yards in front of me.  I came to full draw watching for the opening where I was going to stop the deer for a shot.  As I readied for the shot, I adjusted my feet and with the little bit of frost on my stand my boots squeaked on the stand.  The deer froze about 2 steps before I wanted him to.  At full draw and not feeling like I could stop him in another 2 steps, I found a small hole to let my arrow fly.  As I released, I noticed a small branch moving between me and the deer.  My arrow hit that small branch and deflected away and I missed the deer cleanly.  After finding my arrow, I decided to look a little more for my lost camera.  Still with no success.

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The following morning I headed back into the same location.  Excited that I was seeing deer, but disappointed and frustrated with the prior events from the weekend, I watched the woods come alive that morning.  I had a small buck come within 50 yards but stayed just out of range and headed off away from my stand location.  Shortly after this buck moved out of the area, a doe was headed my way.  I watched as she fed slowly on a trail about 30 yards away.  At full draw as she came into an opening, I bleated to stop her.  I settled my 30 yard pin just behind her shoulder and released the arrow.  I am not entirely sure what happened next.  She ran a little ways and then walked off slowly away from my location.  I gave a little bit of time and climbed down from the tree.  I went over to the location the doe was standing and found my arrow.  There was no blood on the arrow.  My only guess is that the deer may have “ducked” my arrow.  I followed the direction the doe had went and found no blood.

To think that this all happened in one weekend.  To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement.  I was at one of those points asking myself “why am I doing this?”  This is where my passion for hunting came into play!! I took a step back and thought about the weekends events and what I can learn from them.  To me, this is the most important thing we can do to become better hunters.  Learning from these disappointing and frustrating events will help us to make better decisions the next time an opportunity arises.  In this case, I have made mental notes about shot timing and shot placement.  These notes, along with the all the other mental notes from past hunts, will go through my head the next time a shot opportunity presents itself.  The other lesson here, DON’T GIVE UP!  Patience and persistence will pay off!

What lessons have you learned while hunting that have helped you become a better hunter!?