Some of my earliest memories as a child revolve around taking hunting trips with my father. I can remember the fresh crisp smell of the autumn air and sometimes the uneasiness that would come when I looked around at the vastness of the woods and realized just how small I really was.
Over the years, hunting has greatly evolved in my life. While I’ll always treasure the early hunts with my father, hunting has become so much more for it.
It has served as a compass in my life and has helped point me in the right direction more than once.
It’s been a place of clarity when things seemed out of control or when I needed to make a big life decision.
More than anything, it’s been consistent. Day in, day out, hunting is always there for me.
As you can imagine, hunting went from “I get to go hunt”, to “I am hunting.” It’s no longer something that I do or don’t do—it’s who I am.
Hunting is a way of life.
I think we can all agree that what you learn about life and yourself when it’s just you and your surroundings is at times, unrivaled. Whether it’s a good hunting experience or a not-so-good one, hunting is always teaching—especially if you’re there to learn.
Over the years, I’ve learned more about life while hunting than school has ever taught me. Here are 3 key life lessons hunting has taught me.
1. Just Show Up
I remember one of the first times I was supposed to go hunting with my father. We were prepared to leave first thing in the morning, but I was terrified for some reason. The last thing I wanted to do was walk out my front door.
My father sat me down, looked me in the eyes and told me I don’t need to worry about any thing else, outside of just showing up. Just show up and the rest will take care of itself.
This has always been my mantra in life when things get foggy or when I don’t know what the next move is. No matter what I’m dealing with, I know that if I just show up, things have a way of working themselves out.
It’s a no brainer, but while you’re waiting for the perfect shot, patience is obviously key—and the enemy to patience is ego.
I had some early on success when it came to hunting and started to like how it made me feel. But, over time, it wasn’t so much about hunting anymore, but about the recognition.
In other words, pride got in the way.
Wanting more recognition meant I wanted more trophies which led me to making stupid mistakes. I started to realize that if you want it too much, you’re prone to make more mistakes.
Having patience and trusting the process has easily been one of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned over the years. And, wanting something too much means there’s a good chance it has power over me which leads to making stupid decisions.
So, learning to let go and have patience with the process has saved my life more times than I care to admit.
We live in a world where it seems like no matter what we have, we’re constantly focused on what we don’t have. That need for more is draining and toxic.
I remember sitting in a deer stand, hundreds of miles from seeing another person, and I had this epiphany of just how happy I was in that moment. But, I stopped for a second and I remember asking myself, why? Why am I so happy now?
After thinking for a few moments, I began to realize that I was in a state of gratitude, or appreciation. I was so thankful for the woods that provided me the opportunity to hunt. I was thankful for the hunters who came before me and taught me their ways. I was thankful for my wife allowing me the time to hunt.
That’s when I began to realize the secret to happiness that I now try to practice on a daily basis—appreciation for life.
What about you, what life lessons has hunting taught you?