It’s an interesting thing – failure. It can sting. It can poison your thoughts. It can slowly crush your confidence.

But at the same time it can push you to new heights. Force you to look yourself in the mirror. And in the end – make you better.

What’s the difference between these two outcomes? It’s simple really – it’s attitude.

This past Sunday night, I slowly trekked across a freshly planted bean field with a big bag full of turkey decoys over my shoulder and an unpunched tag at the end of my season. Some would say this was a failure – but I am not willing to let that be the case. I may have failed in my ultimate pursuit – the harvest of a turkey. But the successes that occurred along the way to that point were too important to disregard so quickly. I may not have a 10 inch beard and full fan to show off, but I’ve got some damn good stories and a few life long lessons to put in my back pocket to boot.

I won’t lie and say that I don’t get down on myself when I fail – but with a forced attitude adjustment or a refreshed perspective on the situation, I can usually find plenty of silver linings on the cloud. Falling into failure is easy – but taking the effort to examine your attitude – that takes work. I’d be willing to bet you my best slate call though that it’s worth it.

Now how about my past two whitetail hunting seasons? I put in nearly 200 sits, across 5 states – with no antlers on the wall to show for it. But did I really fail? Can you call my first encounter with a 160 class buck in my life a failure? Or how about the fact that I had more close calls with mature bucks this year than ever before. Isn’t that worth something?

Yes – failure can hurt. A mature whitetail flagging away, a poorly hit buck, or an unfilled tag can all leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth and a squelch in your gut. But don’t let that take away from the experiences along the road that led you to where you are today. Failure is a reality – but it isn’t a finality. With the right attitude, any “failure” can be turned into an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to grow, to face your fears and challenges.  And ultimately to overcome.

So next time when you “fail” in your hunting pursuits, don’t let it keep you down for too long. Pick yourself up, brush the autumn leaves off your shoulder and get back in the proverbial deer stand. Cause life is actually pretty good in the woods and you never know what might be coming down the next trail.