So, my 2017-18 deer season didn’t end exactly how I had hoped it would. No buck for me again this year. And, you know what? I’m really okay with it! Those are words that I never thought I would be saying. I used to be upset when my season ended poorly. I mean, any good deer hunter should take a great buck every year, right? Once upon a time, my answer would have been yes. And now, it in an unequivocal “no”.
Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t want a big buck every year. It just means I won’t be devastated if it doesn’t happen. Hunting to me isn’t just about getting another trophy to hang on the wall. I am a meat hunter, first and foremost. A trophy buck is just an added bonus. And, honestly, hunting is not about killing at all. I am happiest when I am in my stand. There is nothing more beautiful than sitting out among God’s nature. There is such peace and joy that comes over me, especially when I see the world come to life in the mornings, and then settle back down for the night.
And, there have been plenty of times that I have been surrounded by deer and have chosen to let them walk. Maybe it was because I didn’t have a great opportunity without getting busted, or maybe I just enjoyed watching them and didn’t want it to end. I also had a couple of great opportunities to take a buck this year, and these were good bucks to; each over 150”. However, I let both of them walk for different reasons. The first I let go because he had broken off his G2, and this one was really tough to let pass. He was an absolutely beautiful buck. He had incredible mass and was very symmetrical, minus that busted off G2. This incredible beast walked right underneath my stand and I pulled back on him, but as he emerged out from under me, I was finally able to get a perfect view and noticed the missing G2. I still debated for a second or two, but painfully decided to let him walk. Yes, he would have been a great trophy. I have never taken a buck with a busted up rack and just couldn’t bring myself to do it. As I sit here writing this right now, I have a beautiful view of all the bucks my husband and I have hanging on the wall, and I can honestly say I have no regrets.
As for the other buck I let walk, I do have some regrets; but, again, I had my reasons for letting him go. This buck appeared in the spot where I had been pursuing a much bigger and better buck. Now don’t get me wrong, the buck I let walk was pretty incredible. He was a “no doubt” shooter for most. I just had my heart set on this other buck, and I had seen him several times on this exact same path. I knew if I shot this buck that had decided to step out in front of me that morning, my opportunity to pursue the buck I really wanted was over. Sadly, I never saw either buck again for the rest of the season. Like I said earlier, I do have some slight regret for passing up that buck, but I am by no means “devastated”.
How can I have regret and not be upset about it? Easy. I have reached a place in my hunting where pride has taken the place of regret or disappointment. I am proud of my decision and ability to let a deer walk. There was once I time when I would not have been able to do that. I would have become so excited over a decent buck that I would have shot. Now I am able to control myself. If I have my heart set on a certain buck, then that is the one I am going to pursue. If I take a different one, then that pursuit is over. Don’t get me completely wrong here, yes, I would definitely take another buck; it would just have to be something spectacular. I am not going to settle for just any other buck. For me, just settling would be far more devastating than going empty handed.
This isn’t to say that there won’t always be a little disappointment every season that I go without a buck. But, if it is because of my ability to be selective and not just settle, than that disappointment will be lessened. I am proud of myself. I feel I have mastered the art of self-control. This is no easy feat when out there on that stand. I will always be happy and satisfied to end my season with a doe or two. As long as I can put food on my table and I am able to get outdoors and spend time in nature, I will be happy.
So, as I have ended this past season with an unfilled tag, I am still smiling. I am not devastated. I am not defeated. Instead, I am filled with pride. I feel accomplished. And, as for the old saying, “You can’t eat tag soup”. Well, you know what? I had a big ole pot of it this season. So, let me end by saying, “Tag soup ain’t so bad after all.”