What Makes a Successful Hunt?

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What makes a hunt a successful one? Do you have to harvest to make it a memorable one? Do you have to travel far from home to make any hunt a special one? Or does seeing someone within your party experience something special mean enough to call a hunt a resounding success!!? Well, I will have to say that I want to be successful (harvest an animal) as much as the next fella, but I've come to realize that success in hunting is not only judged by adding another head on the wall.

A couple of cases in point. About 16-17 yrs ago while still flying in the Army a very good friend of mine got word he was going away TDY for a while (TDY = Temporary duty). This was no big deal as all of us got stuck with some type of TDY from time to time. Well, actually it was a big deal as he had plans to take his 12 yr old son out hunting during Tennessee's youth hunt, which was only a week or so away. I knew his son Adam was very disappointed as this was his first season to hunt. I made a phone call asking if they'd be OK with me taking Adam out for the youth hunt and plans were quickly made for Adam and I to take my camper about 35 miles away to Stewart County, Tn. and try to find a deer for him.

Well, seems my pre-season scouting had worked well and within 20 minutes of settling into our ground blind on day one, Adam had dropped a deer using my BLR in 7/08. Following the 60 yd blood trail brought us a surprise as the deer was actually a spike horn, not a doe and Adam now had his first ever buck. We field dressed him, dragged him to the truck and then drove him to the check station. I'll never forget what Adam said (actually asked me) to me on the way back to the camper. He asked if we had to go home now or could we stay and hunt some more as he was totally enjoying himself. What was I gonna say? We stayed, hunted squirrels the next morning and had fried squirrel for lunch. I could not have been happier if I'd just shot a 180" deer in Alberta!

Fast forward a decade and a half to a bear hunt in Maine. A new friend who'd not done a lot of hunting seemed interested in my planned bear hunt to Maine and when I asked if he'd like to accompany me, he jumped at the chance. My friend Barr saw a bear on the first evening's hunt, but couldn't get a shot (bear fever, perhaps?). With encouragement from other hunters in camp, Barr went back out determined to take any good shot opportunity given after that.

Well, evening #4 found Barr and the guide arriving to pick me up well after dark. In the truck driving back to camp Barr handed me an empty shell case and asked me what I thought it was. Being the genious that I apparently am, I answered, "an empty shell case". Barr could contain his excitement no longer and finally blurted out he'd whacked a nice Maine bear that very night! Luckily the guide was able to maintain the truck on the road amongst all the backslapping and hollering and within 10 minutes we arrived back at Barr's site and then dragged the bear out to the truck.

Nope, Ed never did get his bear on that trip, but I'm sure you'd never have known that seeing the grin plastered on my face for the rest of that week's hunt due entirely to Barr's great success. Prior to this trip, my friend had not had the same opportunities to be successful hunting as I had. He'd not collected a large number of big game animals prior to this time. But, by golly, he had himself a fine Maine bear now and nothing would ever change that!

We sure enjoyed that camp and met a few guys who we really enjoyed meeting and spending some time with. Custom rifle maker Bob Hart showed up in camp with a Buddy and we had a heck of a time trading lies! Bob's friend, Mike, was also a pilot so we had a great time talking flying as well.

There ya go, just a couple of hunts I've experienced where others' success meant way more to me than my own. Hunting is not just a personal challenge with personal goals, in my opinion. It's something to be shared with others and enjoyed by all involved!

Adam posing with his first ever buck.

Barr(C) and Ed(R) pose for a quick photo with custom rifle guru Bob Hart(L).

Ed and new Buddy, Mike, stop BSing for at least a few seconds enroute to an evening's hunt.

Adam puts his back into pulling out his first ever buck! Think I was going to help him? Yeah, of course I did!


ManOfTheFall's picture

You are absoulutely right.

You are absoulutely right. Great story, I really enjoyed it. Think about this one too. If you got your animal every time out it would not be called hunting. It would be called catching, lol. I think a successful hunt is just being able to get out and being able to spend a little time away and just enjoying the great outdoors. Everything else that comes along with the hunt is just an added bonus. Whether it is by you or someone else in your party. Congratulations to Adam on his first buck, and thank you for sharing your story. 

groovy mike's picture

Right on target

Ed – you are 100% right about what makes a success.  The bottom line is that if you enjoy the hunt – for whatever reason – that is a day well spent.  Bringing home game makes me happy.  But watching someone else do it also makes me happy.  Even seeing something cool like a porcupine or fisher cat can make the day special.  Having a bird land on your rifle or just seeing game that isn’t in season can make a day outside very special indeed.  The closest we can come to the excitement of taking our first game again is being with someone else when they take their first.  That is a wonderful experience.  Kudos to you for taking the boy out and even more for taking the extra time with him.

Well done indeed! Mike

Ca_Vermonster's picture

If it was always about

If it was always about harvesting an animal, I'd have quit many, many years ago... lol

Nice story!  Good of you to get that kid out for his first deer.  I am sure the Dad wished he could be there with him, but hopefully he will have many, many successful hunts to shar with him in the future!!!

jaybe's picture

You Are Right!

You're absolutely right, Ed.

As much as we all like to harvest an animal when we go hunting, there is plenty of satisfaction to be gained when someone else - especially someone in our own party - takes one.

Great story and great pictures.

I notice that Adam has blood on the knees of his pants.

Just a few weeks ago one of the young guys in our party got a nice buck and had blood all over both knees - through two layers of pants! His good jeans underneath - Arrrgh!

I demonstrated to him how to stoop over and gut a deer without kneeling in the blood. I guess the old timers get to share some of their knowledge from time to time.

Thanks for the story, and thanks for helping that young man take his first buck.

I'm sure that his dad would have loved to be there, but he was probably glad to have a good friend like you take his son out hunting since he souldn't go.