By Mark Kenyon

When everything that could go wrong, does go wrong – what do you do?

December 28. 5:15 PM. Just as the frustration from a long slow hunt started to show its ugly face, I saw a dark shape materialize from the swaying grasses to my East. One doe. Two. Three. Four. And then there she was. The big, mature doe I’d been waiting to see all evening. She fed out into the patch of oats, moved out from behind the lone tree, and stood broadside at 80 yards. My chance to top off the freezer for the year was finally here. I cocked back the hammer. Breath. I found her dark mocha brown shoulder in my scope. Breathe. I settled the crosshairs on a tuft of hair. Breathe. And squeezed.

“Pfft–pop”

A mis-fire.

My primer popped, but the powder never ignited and the six does in the food plot ahead of me whirled about, bounded off back into cover, and left me with nothing but my curse words and the fleeting sight of white flags in the distance.

Light continued to fade, twenty minutes passed, and then hope returned. Dark shapes again appeared from the East. Maybe the same does? Maybe a new group? I didn’t care. All I knew is that I’d have a chance for redemption. Again, I picked out the doe I thought would fit most comfortably in my freezer, pulled up my scope and settled in. I cocked back the hammer.

Wait. I tried to cock back the hammer, it wouldn’t lock back. I tried again. This time, click. I was good. I settled again, found her in my crosshairs, and squeezed.

Silence.

The trigger wouldn’t pull. My first thought was that maybe the hammer wasn’t fully engaged, so I took my eyes from the scope, and reached forward with my thumb to try and lock it back fully. And then, just as my thumb brushed up against the hammer, “BOOM!”

The gun unexpectedly fired. Smoke clouded my view and the next thing I know I see three deer careening off across the field, and another two going the other way. I was livid.

The infamous Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And last night, I experienced this in full effect.

My friend and I searched but never found sign of a hit other than a few white hairs, that may or may not have come from this deer. Not a single drop of blood. Most likely, when I took my eyes off from the scope to focus on trying to cock back the hammer fully, my scope drifted off the deer and I missed cleanly. I certainly hope that’s the case and the evidence seems to suggest this. Still though, I was incredibly frustrated. The season is rapidly disappearing and I’m down to just two more evenings of hunting in Michigan to fill my freezer and to do my part in managing the local doe population. And to this point, I’m failing miserably. I’m frustrated.

So why do I share this?

Simply because I think you probably feel just like I do. Or you did. Or you will.

If something can go wrong, it will. Maybe not this time, or the next, but eventually. Things go wrong. We make mistakes. Bad luck rears its ugly head. Plans fall through. It’s inevitable. And as serious deer hunters we experience these pitfalls just as much, if not more, than most.

It happens to me. It happens to you. It happens to the big shots on TV and writers in the magazines and everyone in between. And I think, in some small way, that’s a comforting fact. We’ve got company.

But also remember this. The mistakes or circumstances of bad luck, yea they hurt in the moment, but they forge us into something stronger for the future. Every time you drop the ball, there’s a chance to pick it back up, to grow, to mature, to learn. Whether you’re 40 or 14, the opportunity to grow from failure is there. You simply need to take it.

So when everything that can go wrong does go wrong, whether in a treestand or the office or school or home, wait for the smoke to clear, reload and set your sights on the next step.

And when, on the other hand, things all magically come together and it all goes right? Cherish those moments. They’re gold.