By Paul Annear

In many parts of the country, archery season is upon us. The first few opportunities to sit get me excited, pumped, jacked – whatever adjective you want to use – and for some odd reason, even a little stressed out.

Stressed? What the? Yes, I know. But why? I believe that today’s social media and “highlight-reel” scrolling tendencies of Facebook, Instagram and other outlets have somewhat damaged our ability to relax and unwind in the deer woods. Not surprisingly, today’s media and television shows have encouraged this behavior to a degree. I love watching hunting shows, there are some great shows online and on TV, but many portray hunting to be a life or death situation for the hunter. They make the hunt appear so intense you might think you are watching a deer version of the movie “300”. We should all look ourselves in the mirror and ask, “why do I hunt?”

Is it to impress on our social media accounts? Compete with friends? If so, those ambitions will become awfully stressful if you’re not successful. Hopefully there’s more to why you’re hunting than just that. And assuming there is, here are a few tips to help you start enjoying your hunts a little more this fall.

Quit binge scrolling social media–I love seeing big bucks and keeping up with friends who harvest deer and post them on social media. However, after a while, this becomes draining to our system if we are not seeing deer or simply do not have time to get out hunting. I have caught myself in the past few years doing this and feeling stressed out about hunting. Pathetic! I am not paid to hunt and my career does not depend on it in any shape or form. Before social media, I would guess hunters didn’t become nearly as stressed out about hunting as we all are today. I get it, for some people it matters, they make a living off their outdoors success. For the rest of us, let’s chill on the social media gawking and just enjoy the moment.

Make the decision to enjoy your sit prior to heading out—Make a conscious choice to be pleased with the outcome of each hunt, regardless of whether it was “successful” or not. I am sometimes jealous of my father, who enjoys the heck out of each hunt he goes on, I can see it on his face when he returns home from a hunt. This season, I am striving to do the same. I work hard, and put in the time, so the last thing that needs to happen is for me to not enjoy myself. There are too many sights, sounds, and smells surrounding us to not enjoy our time outside. Take time to enjoy the fall colors, laugh inside when you thought a squirrel was your hit-lister. Start enjoying your hunt more.

Actually, this is sort of life or death—Making the decision to harvest a deer or let one walk is a big decision. In this case, it is life or death. Choosing to take an animal needs to be a choice you are comfortable with. When it all comes down to it, the harvesting of the animal is the most critical part of the hunt. Don’t harvest a deer for the wrong reasons. When you walk up to your downed animal this fall, put your phone away and take a few moments to enjoy your surroundings and think about how enjoyable that experience just was. I am just as guilty as anyone when it comes to paging through social media and becoming jealous of other hunters’ “highlight-reels.” But we all just need to remember to relish these experiences a little bit more, after all, we only have a short window each year to enjoy them.

– Paul Annear