By Mark Kenyon
January is an interesting month. A month with great possibility and with much on the line.
For hunters, I like to call January the “whitetail hangover.” Most deer hunting seasons are wrapped up or about to be, and hunters are coming off a grueling three to five month hunting marathon. Given that fact, it’s natural for many of us to fall into hibernation mode, avoid hunting related tasks and turn our attention to other activities.
On the other hand, for the non-hunters out there, January takes on a very different feel. For many, January is a month of new goals, aspirations and resolutions. January is a month of renewal, possibility and excitement. It’s a time of optimism. And because of that, these “other folks” are jumping on treadmills, eating their veggies, and chasing their dreams.
While we hunters may be a bit whooped, and for good reason, it’s important that we don’t let our hangover keep us from realizing the power of January. It’s not a month to be wasted. And maybe, this is a time of year when we should be taking our cues from the rest of the world.
Why is that?
Because January is the beginning of what could be your best season ever.
True story, I kid you not. This could be your best season. Hell, it SHOULD be your best season ever. And it’s all up to you. It’s in no ones hands except your own. So lets go make it happen. Lets get off the couch (I need this kick in the butt too), and get in to gear.
You, me and everyone else out there in the Wired To Hunt Nation. Lets get working and lets do this. Lets make a promise to ourselves that this year will be our best season ever. Join me by following these 4 steps and then lets go have the best damn hunting season of our lives. Deal?
1. Reflect and Set Goals: Reflection is a powerful force. I’ve written about it before, but it’s worth noting again. The act of looking back on past experiences and hunts, re-living those moments, and then learning from them can make a huge difference in your growth as a hunter. To make sure this year can be our best season ever, we need to take the time to process what happened last year. What worked well? What didn’t? What projects helped the most? Which were a waste of time? The questions and answers are endless, but helpful to consider. Once we’ve done that, lets decide where we need to go from here. That means setting goals. Think about it – what do you need to do this year to take the next step?
In my opinion it’s a good idea to set two kinds of goals. First, set “pinnacle goals”. These are goals of ultimate achievement. The final piece of a journey. For example, one goal of mine is to kill a mature buck in Iowa this year. Next, we need to set “developmental goals”. These are goals related to steps that must be taken to reach the pinnacle. So in my case, in order to kill a mature buck in Iowa, I’m setting the developmental goal of asking for permission on at least three new properties there. I’d recommend listing out at least three of these types of goals for each of your “pinnacle goals”. This gives you smaller, attainable steps to work on and to keep you focused towards your larger goals.
I know you hear this every year, but it really can work. Write these goals out, and put them somewhere you’ll see them often. Want even more accountability? Tell a hunting buddy about your goals, give them a copy, and ask them to keep you honest and on task.
2. Start Your Work Now and Don’t Stop: Once you know what you’re working towards, it’s time to get after it. There’s no off-season for the serious and successful hunter, and if you want this season to be your best season ever, you’re going to need to work harder than ever before. Just last week I wrote about 10 projects to be working on now, and that’s a great place to start. But that’s just a start. Success requires hard work. Tireless, endless, focused hard work. This is the year that you pay attention to the details, it’s the year you do all the things you know you “should” do, but never get to. This is the year you finally take on those projects you’ve talked about years. No more woulda, coulda, shouldas.
If you want this to be your best season ever you need to take each step of the hunters year up to a new level. Post-season scouting – gotta do it. Shed hunting – take it seriously. Archery practice – be consistent with it. Food plots – put in the work. Stand preparation – get on it early. The projects and possibilities are endless, but the morale of the story is the same. There should not be a single week of any month that you’re not doing something to work towards your whitetail related goals. Unless, of course, you don’t want this to be your best season ever.
3. Quit The Excuses: Now here’s an important one. You’re going to quit with the excuses – and so am I. We all have them, but they are worthless and they only hurt us in the long term. I don’t want to hear about how few mature bucks live in your area. Or how many other hunters you have to deal with. Don’t complain about the small properties you hunt or the fact that you don’t have the fancy gear like guys on TV have. None of it matters, none of it holds up. No excuses. We all have challenges, and we all have to deal with them. If we’re going to have the best season of our lives, we’re going to need to throw out the excuses and instead make the choices necessary to deal with these challenges.
You want to kill a giant buck, but you say it “just can’t be done in X state”, or “I don’t have the time”, or “only people with big money can kill big deer.” Well I don’t want to hear it. If you want something badly enough, in this case a big buck, just go out there and do the things necessary to get it done. Put in the extra work and time to get it done in your home state, or save your pennies and travel to another state. It’s possible. I complain about many of the same things, but it gets me nowhere. You and me, we have to get over the excuses. If we quit whining and making excuses, and instead focus our energy on the steps necessary to change our circumstances – it’s amazing what can be accomplished.
4. Believe: Lastly, you need to believe. You need to believe that this can be the best season of your life and you need to cling tight to that idea and to that dream. Nothing is more important than hope. Nothing is more powerful than a positive attitude. When the work gets hard and the going gets tough, you need to stay strong and stick to your guns. Keep the faith, and believe in yourself. Believe in the fact that hard work pays off, and persistence prevails.
Why do I say this? Because it’s true. No matter how tough a hunt, a week or a season you’re having – if you stay strong and keep working – good things will happen. Things might not always go as you planned, but hard work and a positive attitude ALWAYS pays off, in one way or another.
So this year, let’s not settle for mediocrity. Lets not have “just another deer hunting season”. Lets set our sights high and go for it. Our biggest of whitetail dreams, we’ll chase them. Those toughest of big deer challenges, we’ll take them on. The most grueling of hunting circumstances, we’ll handle them.
You, me and the rest of the Wired To Hunt Nation. We’re about to embark on one heck of a journey.
Our best season EVER.