By Cody Altizer

I’m a very goal oriented person in all aspects of life.  I think having goals is extremely important to one’s success, because it gives you an end point to focus on which can in turn provide you with the needed tunnel vision to achieve said goal.  Plus, I’ve been told I have the attention span of a squirrel, so goals keep me focused on a bigger picture.

Just like my personal goals, I set forth goals before every hunting season.  I fully expect to achieve them all, but equally understand that it would be extremely difficult to do so.  I think that balance helps me keep a healthy mind for the entire length of a season.  Nevertheless, with the start of my 2012 hunting season just weeks away, I wanted to take a little time to share with the W2H Nation the goals I have set forth for myself.

Harvest a Deer with My Bow

Yes, it seems like a simple goal, but last year I failed at this.  I had three golden opportunities at does throughout the season and blew them all.  The first was on opening day, I hit a doe just a little too far forward, one lunged her and never recovered her. The second came on Halloween, and I thought for sure I’d be treated rather than tricked.  Another nice, fat doe gave me a shot (in hindsight, a shot I should not have taken) at 25 yards.  I hit her high, but was still confident I’d find her after finding pools of blood for nearly a half mile.  I did not.  Finally, I had an old, old mature doe at 12 yards in early November.  As soon as she stepped into my shooting lane I yelled at her to stop her.  I didn’t intend to yell, I meant to soft bleat, but for whatever reason a large guttural buck grunt came out.  She bounded away harmlessly.  That hunt was more comical than anything.

Disclaimer: I know the above makes me sound like a sloppy bowhunter, but I assure you I am not.  I practice diligently, and wanted to share my misfortune with you to hold myself accountable for poor choices.

Anyway, I consider myself a bowhunter first, and not harvesting a deer with archery equipment last year has left an awfully bitter taste in my mouth.  I have several stands hung that should provide ample shot opportunities at does throughout the year, especially in the early season.  I’ve practiced more than ever and have my mind in tip top shape to make better decisions than in the past.  Once the rut rolls around, I have even more stand setups that will hopefully give me the opportunity at a mature buck.  We shall see!

Harvest a Mature Virginia Buck with my Bow

This is another goal I failed to reach last season.  In fact, it’s a goal I’ve failed to reach the past 7 seasons.  As long as I have been hunting whitetails with a bow on my home piece of property in Virginia, I have tried tirelessly to harvest a mature (3.5+years old) buck with my bow.  I haven’t.  In 2005 I shot over the back of an 8 pointer with my crossbow, but that buck was likely 2 years old, and that’s as close as I’ve ever gotten.

Tremendous strides have been made towards accomplish this goal in recent years through QDM practices.  By harvesting more does, increasing natural forage, planting food plots, and limiting human pressure the bucks that call my property are home are now more relaxed, plentiful, and more vulnerable.  This fall I will have more food centrally located on my property than ever before and several stand locations that are in prime transition zones.  There’s a good chance I could accomplish this goal this fall.  Stay tuned!

Harvest a Deer on Film

My “day job” is a photographer, videographer, and cinematographer, so it’s only natural that I enjoy filming my hunts, right?  It’s true.  I love filming others hunts, but the fact of the matter is I’m just not that comfortable in front of a camera and self-filming is a pain in the neck.  Still, harvesting a deer on film is very cool and the memory of arrowing a nice deer can be played back repeatedly.

In 2010 I shot two deer on film with my bow, and I’m hoping to harvest at least one in 2012.  I’ve had a couple fine folks generously give some of their hunting time up to film me, so I’m hoping I can get the job done.

Stay Hungry

Last season was easily the most successful season for my family and our property ever.  My brother shot a 4 year old 149” 15 pointer, I shot a 3 year old 127” 11 pointer and my brother shot a busted up, 5 year old warrior buck.  It was a very blessed season and a testament to the countless hours of hard work we’ve put in bettering our property and grooming it for whitetails.

That being said, it’d be easy to look at last year and go into this year satisfied and content with lesser success.  That’s not at all going to be the case.  While I certainly recognize the blessing that 2012 season was, and how hard it will be to duplicate that success, I fully expect to at the very least be in the position to have the same opportunities to enjoy that same success.  Whether or not we make the most of those opportunites remains to be seen.

Have Fun

This is an obvious goal, but I save it for last because it’s easily the most important.  Last fall I made a concerted effort to really enjoy myself in the woods, not take things so seriously, and just soak it all up best I could.  It was one of the best hunting decisions I’ve ever made.  Despite the success I enjoyed last year, I also had a lot of bad luck.  Laughing it off and realizing the sun would indeed rise the next morning made hunting so much more enjoyable.  I simplified my gear, simplified my approach (although my brother would beg to differ), and just got back to good, old fashioned, hard work hunting.  It was a lot of fun and something I know I can duplicate this year with the right mindset.

I can’t wait to climb up a Virginia hardwood here in a few days.  It’s been a long offseason.  Too long, in fact.  I look forward to many things throughout a deer season, too many to list.  However, each and every season is different and a new season brings new opportunities and new goals. One thing always remains the same, however, and that is that it’s up to me as to whether or not those goals get accomplished.

– Cody Altizer