Shrinking yourself

I can usually tell if I’m going to catch fish or not. That’s not spoken out of arrogance, that’s an admission that the determining factor in whether or not I will be successful is how much work I decide to put into it. If I put in the work, I expect to get one. Still, that doesn’t mean I will, because I don’t deserve to catch a fish any more than a fish deserves being hooked in the mouth while trying to snack.

Same goes for hunting. Great places to shoot deer aren’t always great places to see deer. Road hunting is harder on your tires and brakes than your feet and your knees. But it’s easy, and if you do happen to intercept a deer you’ve experienced the exception, not the rule.

Point is, results are usually dictated by my willingness to work and put forth the effort.

I have buddies who guide fishing charters on Prince of Wales and if their clients want to stay inside where the weather is better, they might be limiting their chances at success. They might keep their breakfast, but miss out on future meals.

That doesn’t mean you can’t catch a king salmon by the cliffs between Craig and Klawock, but the likelihood is diminished.

We’re all looking for the bargain buck or the limit of salmon so we can be back in time to catch the afternoon game, but there is no substitute for hard work.

In August I hiked up to a spot a buddy showed me. We saw 14 bucks, three of which were 4-points, but we didn’t get a shot at any. We should have stayed another night, but didn’t because the clouds were rolling in and it had already been a little wet the day before. We gave up. Naturally, the weather wasn’t as bad as we thought. There is no doubt had we stayed up there we would have had plenty of chances, and if we lowered our standards, could have settled for a buck with fewer points. But no. We stopped short. We came home.

That’s our fault. That’s not the system’s fault. That’s not earth’s fault for depriving us. The best hunters and fishermen I know are the hardest workers. They are passionate about it. They have the best stories and the biggest fish because they are the best and biggest workers. I don’t go to the river, fish half-heartedly and expect to catch fish because I write about fishing, or because the world owes me.

That’s ridiculous.

I get it. As a culture we want things to be fair. One of the conditions of fairness is work, but even then that doesn’t mean things will be fair, or equal.

Truth be told I probably didn’t deserve a huge elk on my first trip. That wouldn’t have been fair to better hunters than me who have spent more time and money on Etolin Island chasing them. But I hiked 20 miles anyway.

This weekend there will be others who are out making it happen on rural rivers. There will be hunters who will be using limited resources to track scarce deer on big islands and others who are willing to go farther and harder than the rest.

It doesn’t matter what the odds are, because if you just played the percentages, you’d probably stay at home.

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