By Mark Huelsing

Well, fellow whitetail fanatics…it is here!  Many states have started their whitetail seasons, several more are opening today, and a remaining few will begin in the next couple of weeks.

If you are reading this then you are likely one of the many passionate deer hunters that has been dreaming about this time of year for months.  But you’ve done more than just dream.  You have worked hard to make your dreams a reality; chances are, you have trail camera photos collected, treestand sites prepared, equipment organized, and maybe even some food plots planted.

All of this preparation that we put into our hunting season is good, and it certainly helps increase our chances of harvesting the deer we are after, but it can also be deceiving.  All of the time that we spend, the sweat that we exert, and the tips, tricks, and tactics that we read about, can lead us to believe that there is some special formula to guaranteed hunting success.

I know that I am guilty of writing articles that make hunting out to be something that we can control.  I’ve written about “5 tips to…”, “3 tactics for…”, “8 reasons why you should…”, etc.  Yes, knowledge will help you be successful.  Yes, there are legitimate tactics and tips that we should consider.  Yes, you can increase your odds of success.  Preparation does matter!  But you know what?…

Hunting isn’t primarily about you.  You are not in ultimate control.

Remember that the animals we are pursuing are wild.  They don’t follow our plans.  They don’t fit our formulas.  They don’t always show up where and when we want them to…and sometimes it seems they have a way of disappearing into thin air.

I, like you, want to be successful; and I will continue to learn and grow as a hunter, but I also want to face the fact that I can’t control everything.  It would be great if all of my preparation pays off and things go as planned, but the reality is, that rarely happens in hunting.  The deer don’t follow my script, but that is OK!  I will be happy to get lucky!  I’ll take a chance encounter.

As hunters we live in a struggle between the possibility of, and the guarantee of, success.  Hunting is essentially about the chase, the possibility, the unknown, the challenge, and the adventure.  If hard work and planning guaranteed success then all of those wonderful, essential aspects of the hunt would be lost and hunting wouldn’t be the amazing pursuit that it is.

The bad news is that your preparation and plans won’t guarantee success.  However, the really good news is that your chances of success aren’t limited by your imperfect plans and preparation!

So, whether you have spent a year preparing or your pre-season plans were non-existent, now is the time to go enjoy the hunt.

Get out there and give yourself opportunities for great things to happen.

– Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors.  If he is not bowhunting, then he is planning towards it, training for it, and writing about it at

Photo provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation.