Right around noon I turned into a Snickers commercial. It’s one of the most predicable events in a Lund hunting trip in October. Pre-dawn enthusiasm and first light focus gives way to frustration. My steps go from calculated and quiet to sloppy. By noon, I’m dehydrated, hungry and wondering how long I’d make it after the apocalypse.
At this point I do the same thing I tell students to avoid when it comes to social media.
“Don’t compare yourself to others.” “Social Media doesn’t tell the true story.” “Don’t get your self-worth from any of the internets.”
Social media has enabled me to see just about every single buck that’s shot and since more people are likely to share success than failure, it can appear that 85-95% of hunters are calling in deer or are finding masher bucks who can’t go on so they stand next to the road and wait for a human to turn them into steaks and burger. The worst is hearing about dudes who sneak up on bucks in their beds. That’s a level of ninja at which I can only guess.
Anyway, I went back to my truck, cooked a meal, felt a ton better then remembered that the sun was out, it was warm and there was no one around me. It was one of those advertisements for living in Alaska.
When hunting and fishing, I often wonder about the difference in doing something wrong, and just being unlucky. When I golfed, it was my fault the ball sailed over oak trees and into fields never to be found again. But when fishing, I might be doing everything right, there just isn’t a fish there. Which means that I am not doing something right because I’m in the wrong spot, but I don’t know that. I may have hunted the transition from deep timber to thick brush to muskeg, perfectly. There just wasn’t a buck in the area. Not my fault, but I’ll never know that so sometimes it’s better to assume there was a buck and it was my fault.
The good part about this is by taking responsibility, I give myself the power to change. I can improve. If it’s the fault of the universe for hating me, Karma, negative vibes, genes, the tyranny of the opposing political party, oil companies, or whatever else is the excuse du jour, then I don’t reflect on my method, focus and skill. I think I’m a victim. I can’t get sloppy just because I get frustrated, because that’s when I’ll get the chance.
I got my mind right and … continued not seeing deer. Not even a doe. It was almost impressive. Like when your team is held to five yards rushing or the opposing pitcher throws a no-hitter.
You quietly hit the showers and take the L.
That night a buddy of mine texted and asked if I wanted to take his boat and anchor up in a cove and hike some muskegs. I figured it would be a new and interesting way to not get a deer, so I met him and another buddy at the dock the following morning.
We were hiking by 8. At 8:45 I snuck up on a buck … in its bed. By noon I was back on the beach, sitting on a log recording a podcast next to a pack full of meat, waiting for the other guys to finish their hunt.
Maybe I was lucky, maybe I was good. Either way, I’m happy I went.
• Jeff Lund is a writer and teacher based in Ketchikan. “I Went To The Woods,” a reference to Henry David Thoreau, appears in Outdoors twice a month.