The author has done plenty of rowing and hiking in the early morning, but he hasn’t found a buck. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

The author has done plenty of rowing and hiking in the early morning, but he hasn’t found a buck. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Crashing waves of doubt

Staying frustrated is more of a problem than getting frustrated

  • By Jeff Lund For the Juneau Empire
  • Wednesday, November 10, 2021 4:03pm
  • Sports

By Jeff Lund

For the Juneau Empire

My initial focus and excitement while hunting typically lasts until about 10:30 this time of year.

I arrive at the spot, I’m as silent and sneaky as I can be, I muster the best calls I can when I feel it is time to call, then about 10:30, I start to feel it. It seems like the good hours have once again passed and if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s not going to.

Ridiculous of course, but I know there’s a team of buddies, stacking the gutless bodies of everything from forkies to four-points onto the back deck of a seiner. Someone else sat down and before she could take a sip of coffee after blowing the call, was almost run over by a hard-charging rut buck. One guy called in two bucks while another called three, both were out done by the dude who called in four, at one time. Then there’s the 17-year old who opened a can of Monster, to which a 5×5 with 3 eye guards responded, and proceeded to walk in sideways to maintain a broadside pose. It will all be posted by the time I’m eating dinner, wishing my burger was backstrap.

I indulge in this pathetic self-pity for 15 or so minutes then Phase 2 of my hunt starts and lasts until mid-afternoon. During those minutes, I don’t feel like I am hunting. I’m a Snickers commercial. I am only listening to the waves of negativity crashing against the confidence that was a rock a few hours earlier, but is now nothing more than sand. And it’s not even lunchtime.

A buddy texted me at the end of last month to say it felt like he was the only one in Southeast Alaska not getting big bucks. Then added one of the crying laughing emojis and followed up with, “Weird how that works.”

He was speaking to the phenomenon brought on by the connectivity of social media — perception vs. reality. He’s able to laugh it off, refocus and make things happen. Since that text, he’s bagged two nice bucks.

The point is not to pretend frustration does not exist, because there is such a thing as toxic positivity. I know, I know, you’re tired of hearing how everything is toxic and everything is bad, but that’s part of the point. It’s not all bad, it’s not all good and to pretend it is simply either, is a waste of time.

When it comes to the inevitable hunting frustration, staying frustrated is more of a problem than getting frustrated. Using #KeepHammering on a social media post does not make a hunter immune to negativity. It is the cry of those who do something about the situation rather than simply feeling justified in prolonged pouting.

I guess it’s the same with anything really. You start something you’re really excited about, then everything seems to fall apart. There were plans and goals and it all seems as far away as before you started trying. Everything worked out for this person, why not you? But success is not the absence of hardship, it’s handling hardship and moving forward.

It’s getting easier to remember this on those weekend mornings, but I still have some improving to do if the bucks keep failing to show.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

More in Sports

Thunder Mountain High School junior Sage Schultz pins Ketchikan senior Alexander Gilley in their 135-pound semifinal match of the 2023 Region V Wrestling Championships on Friday at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe / For the Juneau Empire)
Juneau grapplers have lead in first day of Region V Southeast Tournament Championships

TMHS, Mt. Edgecumbe top boys’ divisions; Ketchikan, MEHS top girls’

Colony High School senior Jasmine Anderson, Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé junior Emma Fellman, Service High School senior Preston Kwon and Thunder Mountain High School senior PJ Foy at the USA Swimming 2023 Speedo Winter Junior Championships in Westmont, Illinois. (Courtesy photo)
Foy chasing FMC Natatorium pool record

Glacier Swim Club stars competing at USA junior championships

The Thunder Mountain High School wrestling team, made up of TMHS and Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé athletes, will host the Region V Wrestling Championships on Friday and Saturday in the TMHS Thunderdome gym. (Photo courtesy of TMHS)
Falcons grapplers have mat mission at Southeast Tournament Championships

Thunder Mountain High School upperclassmen have waited lifetime for title chance.

Three birch trees stand in a field at the University of Alaska Fairbanks during a recent celebration for three scientists killed in a helicopter crash in July. From left, the trees honor Tori Moore, Ronnie Daanen and Justin Germann. (Photo by Alyssa Enriquez)
Alaska Science Forum: Memories of souls in a winter birch forest

On a recent afternoon, middle Alaska slipped into darkness. But a few… Continue reading

Through the author’s spotting scope: A Dall sheep feeds in Denali National Park near the Teklanika River. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Too tough to call

The Teklanika River grows and moves swiftly as it flows north. Eventually… Continue reading

A flying squirrel launches a glide, with patagium spread wide. (Photo by Richard A. Wood)
On the Trails: Gliding in air

An eagle soars overhead, wings spread, making only minute steering adjustments of… Continue reading

Fresh snow covers the surface of Eaglecrest Ski Area on Friday morning. General Manager Dave Scanlan said Thursday the plan is to open the ski area next Saturday. (Webcam photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area)
Eaglecrest manager says things look cool for upcoming season, despite delayed opening

Strong numbers for season pass sales, number of foreign student employees, business leaders told.

The Yukon River, seen here as a wide white band, is freezing later in fall and breaking up earlier in spring than it was a few decades ago. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Long-term views of a changed Alaska

As an instructor for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, I have stood before… Continue reading

A light dusting of snow covers the ground at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Wednesday morning. The planned opening for the ski area has been delayed a week until Saturday, Dec. 9, according to General Manager Dave Scanlan. (Photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area)
Eaglecrest delays scheduled opening by one week until next Saturday, Dec. 9

Warm temperatures and rain dissolved much of ski area’s snowpack, but cold and snow in forecast.

Most Read