By Aaron Farley

It almost seems silly, the amount of time we invest in bowhunting.

I’m a pragmatist at heart. I generally prefer the practical, simple, straightforward, and most efficient option. If I trusted you enough to be really honest, I’d tell you that I am practical to a fault. The minute I feel like I’m wasting my time, I want to quit. I lose all motivation if I realize something isn’t working. My interest leaves faster than viewers during the 4th quarter of a 40-3 football game on Sunday afternoon.

Sure, there is something to be admired about “never surrender”, “fight ‘til the end”, and “quitters never win.” But I don’t care. I’m okay with losing, especially if losing now can save me the wasted time of losing later. The problem is, when it comes to bowhunting, I break all my own rules.

What possesses a person to trade hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours for a few seconds?  Why do I take time away from important things so I can practice, scout, plan, train, and prepare for an event that might never happen? An event that, if it does, will only last a few seconds? It might be an irrational addiction. It could be a type of foolishness, a pipe dream? I know guys who have bowhunted for years and have yet to kill a deer.

Why are we willing to make such a lop-sided trade? Why work so hard to make an uneven trade?

I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s because those seconds, those few precious seconds, are glorious. In the fraction of a minute when it all comes together, it’s worth every hour it took to get there. When we finally close the deal, time stands still. Emotions and events are burned into our brains for the rest of our lives. Even though the story we tell of that moment has a natural tendency to embellish, there is still something big about it. Bowhunting is one of the few ways the adventurer inside of us can do something epic.

You Get What You Pay For

The older I get, the more I’m learning this lesson; You get what you pay for. Is it cliché? Yes. Does it holds true for me? Absolutely. It proves true on things like how much I spend on my hunting gear, and it definitely holds true regarding how much time I spend on a hunt. As bowhunters, our time is an investment that comes back to us. When we touch off the release and an arrow flies through the air, it’s payday. And, the more time it takes to make that moment happen, the more we remember it. The more we invested, the more we relish in the moment. We get what we pay for.

Now, I’m not saying a hunt that comes together quickly isn’t as important or memorable as one that took three years to close the deal. No, sometimes those crazy days when we hang a stand and a bruiser walks out 10 minutes later make for the best memories. I don’t mean this on such specific terms. The principle applies to the bigger picture. Our time investment is not in the individual hunt, as much as in the process of becoming a hunter.

We pay our dues in time. Time spent shooting arrows in our backyard. Hours sitting, listening, and observing the habitat. All those blown opportunities and bumped deer, are just payments. Eventually, when we have banked enough effort, we start to get back more than we put in. The return on our investment isn’t always a set of antlers or fresh venison. But one way or another, if we keep making our payments, the payoff comes.

Story, Experience & Education

If we’re observant, honest hunters, the payback we get from our investment is worth more than any trophy or meal. It’s the stories, experiences and education that make us rich men. Stories are the hunter’s currency.  Our stories act as a sort of credentials among hunters. It’s our stories, assuming they’re not made up, that vet us and speak to our aptitude. When we meet other hunters, it’s good to have a little “spending money” in our pocket. Our stories will be told for years to new friends at hardware stores and half-interested kids at family gatherings. As we get older, the mounts will decay and the flavor may fade. But our stories – those are a treasure that only grows with time (if you know what I mean).

– Aaron Farley, RusticMan.com