Mathews Inc.
Hunting Stress
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Grousenut 10-Nov-17
Scoot 10-Nov-17
ohiohunter 10-Nov-17
stick n string 10-Nov-17
Vids 10-Nov-17
sfiremedic 10-Nov-17
elk yinzer 10-Nov-17
BigOk 10-Nov-17
StickFlicker 10-Nov-17
Pigsticker 10-Nov-17
Hawkeye 10-Nov-17
Hawkeye 10-Nov-17
APauls 10-Nov-17
bowyer45 10-Nov-17
Grousenut 10-Nov-17
EmbryOklahoma 10-Nov-17
bowyer45 10-Nov-17
midwest 10-Nov-17
lawdy 10-Nov-17
midwest 10-Nov-17
lawdy 10-Nov-17
Missouribreaks 10-Nov-17
Hawkeye 10-Nov-17
From: Grousenut
10-Nov-17
I have long struggled with hunting related stress. I know it's not rational given all the other stressors in the world, but I feel it nonetheless. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get a deer/elk or whatever hunt I'm currently on. I've learned to control it when hunting for myself and was pretty close to just accepting that a harvest will not always happen. BUT, now I'm introducing my kids to hunting and I've been trying to get my son his first deer, albeit with a rifle. I find I'm putting a ton of pressure on myself and it's taking the fun away. I'm trying not to show the stress to my son, but he's probably picking up on it. It's not helping that we are seeing very few deer despite a productive archery season. We live in Northern MN, deer densities are low. I have a little land with good sign, but still we are just not seeing much. I'm not really looking for any answers, but just an catharsis I guess. Any sage advice from others experience in mentoring youth?

From: Scoot
10-Nov-17
No sage advice from me. However, I can absolutely empathize with you! I sometimes lose perspective when I'm hunting (as the hunter). However, I used to really, really want my son and daughter to get their first deer. I was pulling my hair out with my son's efforts to get his first and it was filled with trials and tribulations! However, since both my kids have now shot their first deer, I don't feel nearly the pressure I did at first. I also focus on the process and not the outcome, which is hugely important for me (in hunting and in many areas of life). Some of my, and my son's, favorite hunting trips have resulted in no punched tags, no arrows flung, and sometimes no deer even seen. After getting home from Western ND on a muley hunt with my son he told me it was one of his favorite trips ever- and he never even drew his bow.

So... the closest thing I can offer is to focus on the process and enjoy the ride! Make sure your son understands (or at least try to) it's not all about punched tags and that time in the field with dad is invaluable and even if he doesn't shoot a deer, he'll cherish those times later in life.

From: ohiohunter
10-Nov-17
Teach him its not all about filling your tag and though you go home empty handed you can still have a great hunt. Teach him to enjoy the wildlife surrounding him, as there may be a point in his life when that luxury eludes him due to other constraints. Educate him on the forest and all it offers aside from just deer. The moment seems against you but time is on your side, patience is a virtue. I hunted 4yrs with nothing to show for it, things will come together. By the time I was 30 I'm sure I've put over 1000" on the ground w/ a 1 buck limit per yr.

10-Nov-17
Grouse, im 34 and have hunted since i was 12, hunting A LOT since i was able to drive myself. I have killed a lot of deer along the way, but the last 3 years specifically, i have learned something that i believe full-heartedly and that has changed the way i view my hunts.

I completely believe that when God decides we are to harvest a deer, you darn near cant screw it up. The hunt you think "not a chance", one comes walkin up for no reason. The hunts you think "no chance to not get one", even if an opp almost presents itself, something silly prevents it from happening and there isnt anything you coulda done to make it happen.

Some will undoubtedly oppose me and thats okay. The Bible says that we arent to worry and that we will have provided for us what we NEED. When i see a sparrow, thats what i think about as the verse goes something like "look at the sparrows, they dont worry and not even they go without". My family's meals heavily include deer meat. 4 deer per year generally leaves me with 10-15 lbs of loose burger left over to get me thru the start of the following archery season. This feeling has helped me to not "stress" getting any number of those 4 deer that we need, like it used to.

Having said that, until this year, id never made it past the second week of October before filling a tag. I was getting closer to "stressing" with each "failed" hunt until i killed a doe last Friday night(in a situation where my plans were ruined by a coupke things and i went out in a very low odds situation JUST to not give up) and then followed that up by killing a nice buck the next morning. Another week or so, i probably would have been getting stressed. The other thing i will say is, i have ALWAYS felt way more oressure trying to get someone else on a deer than ive ever felt getting myself a deer. So i getcha there. I would just say to you, enjoy the time with your son and make that time "the success" instead of killing a deer. The deer meat would be long gone when the memories will still be fondly remembered.

Just how it is for me.... Good luck Grouse, sometimes you just gotta keep chuggin and its then that the floodgates open!!!

From: Vids
10-Nov-17
Good advice above, and I'd add that there's nothing wrong with being straightforward with your son that you're feeling pressure to get him on a deer and it's something you need to work on. (I've felt stress to be successful on hunts too, so I can relate) If you think he's picking up on it then he is, they are smarter than we give them credit for!

My kids are younger, but I've made some great connections with them by being honest and admitting when I make a mistake. I think it helps them develop humility if their parents can be honest about their own shortcomings, or admit they didn't handle a situation correctly.

From: sfiremedic
10-Nov-17
How old are your kids? I guess I'd try to take the success part out of it and just enjoy being outside in the woods. Sounds easy. I don't know if Im stressed but I do struggle to stop and smell the roses. I 'm pretty much on a mission. The saying in my family is " If you want something done ask me to do it. If you want to have fun doing it, ask my brother."

Good luck and just get em out there!!

From: elk yinzer
10-Nov-17
I honestly feel the same way sometimes. Woudn't say I struggle with it, but I recognize it's there. I know it's dumb, but my theory is it has to be a natural response from a time when not killing meant not feeding our families.

Hunting can be such a mindf#&k. Prime time comes and it gets to the point where you only have a handful of days until it's back to work or season goes out. Not a day goes by I don't think about hunting, how to kill next year's buck. I scout all year. I'm kind of a dreamer but I fly by the seat of my pants a lot. Forget plan A, plan B, plan C....I have the whole damn alphabet filled with plans but usually struggle to prioritize which are the best.

I scouted like 30 spots! How am I supposed to choose the best one on a given day? My mind goes a million miles an hour trying to sort through all the scouting intel in my jumbled head. Micro analyzing weather reports. Getting psyched about hunting pressure. I hunt all public land and other hunters really pysch me out sometimes. What is the wind going to do. What about the big one I got on that stupid trailcam! Overcoming misses and poor shot placement. Waking up well before dawn and running on fumes after a few days. Dealing with crap weather and staying warm in the cold. Cursing mother nature when it's too warm. Am I holding out for a trophy? There is not enough meat in my freezer! Boy, I hate going out in rifle season, I guess I am still a bit of a tag-filler.

I'm not sure if it's stress or my ADD kicking into high gear but I definitely start getting a little goofy during bow season. I do enjoy it, I really do! I live to hunt, I identify myself as a hunter, it's hard to explain. I try to remind myself to slow down, and this is enjoyable, but sometimes bow season does get entirely draining. I love going small game hunting after I shoot a buck. It's so much more relaxing, just mindlessly wandering the woods in full predator mode, but minimally invested in whether I shoot anything or not.

From: BigOk
10-Nov-17
Been there with my daughter. A hunt with a child doesn't have to have a tag filled to be successful. When the tag is filled all the work that went into it, makes the success that much sweeter.

From: StickFlicker
10-Nov-17
There are two things I've come to realize in taking new hunters hunting through the years.

1. Putting pressure and pushing too hard to make them successful often makes the hunt less enjoyable for them, and they may quit hunting before they really find the appeal and become hunters.

2. Easy success on first hunts has often had the effect that new hunters decide that it's just too easy (and maybe they don't feel the sporting appeal) and therefore they sometimes had little interest in going on more hunts. Of course, if they didn't have the benefit of an experienced hunter taking them out, it's very likely they would not have had the "easy" success. There is nothing wrong with a beginner not getting their game on their first few hunts. I think it causes them to appreciate it and they will be much more excited when they finally are successful, which in turn gives them a much higher chance of enjoying the sport and becoming life-long hunters. I know that I wasn't successful my first few years, so it really meant a lot to me (and hooked me on the sport) once I was finally successful. So, in my opinion, it's OK, and maybe even beneficial, for them to not be successful on first hunts. So, don't put so much pressure on yourself for them to succeed.

From: Pigsticker
10-Nov-17
Make going fun, focus on being out there, constantly teach the little things, and his role a biological tool.

Recently a guy asked me if I would take his son hunting since he is a non hunter. I said I start with Turkey season and transition to pig in the summer to deer in the fall. I relish the opportunity and have taken many kids who have become avid outdoorsman. This is the greatest gift instead of a first deer. Enjoy the moment they are fleeting.

10-Nov-17
Good advice here for sure. Most of the folks I have personally bow hunted with have participated in sports when they were younger. I think that competitive spirit that makes us want to win carries over into most all aspects of our lives. Maybe it is not all bad, as long as we understand "winning" in terms as taking an animal is not the only important part of hunting.

From: Hawkeye
10-Nov-17
There is some priceless information in this thread. I couldn't agree more about enjoying the journey and early struggles often feed that fire. Took me 3 years to take my first doe-but I came from a non hunting family. I also agree with the 'when it's time it's time' mentality and anymore I am just thankful to be out there. I know it sounds like a cliche' but I hurt my shoulder last week and couldn't lift my arm. All j thought about was just BEING able to climb a tree and be part of the 'process'..couldn't care less about killing one at that point. Just wanted the opportunity and health to try. I'm back in a tree but honestly-I think we can do more harm than good by 'ensuring' an easy kill or a monster buck. I always say one thing in a tree to the man upstairs each and every hunt-"Thanks for the opportunity to be here." Then I tip my hat and let it play out......

From: Hawkeye
10-Nov-17
There is some priceless information in this thread. I couldn't agree more about enjoying the journey and early struggles often feed that fire. Took me 3 years to take my first doe-but I came from a non hunting family. I also agree with the 'when it's time it's time' mentality and anymore I am just thankful to be out there. I know it sounds like a cliche' but I hurt my shoulder last week and couldn't lift my arm. All j thought about was just BEING able to climb a tree and be part of the 'process'..couldn't care less about killing one at that point. Just wanted the opportunity and health to try. I'm back in a tree but honestly-I think we can do more harm than good by 'ensuring' an easy kill or a monster buck. I always say one thing in a tree to the man upstairs each and every hunt-"Thanks for the opportunity to be here." Then I tip my hat and let it play out......

From: APauls
10-Nov-17
First year I hunted I was 12 and I had gotten a .22 for my 12th birthday. My dad did that for all his 4 sons. A "rite of passage" almost. That first year I was just as happy plinking sparrows and I never shot a deer. Something about not getting one sure lit the fire and the next year it was laser focus... and has been for 17 straight years since then. Don't worry - it isn't all about filling a tag!

From: bowyer45
10-Nov-17
I think, learning to hunt is the important things to teach, not just how to kill. I think too much success too soon lessens the importance of patience and actually may make hunting seem too easy and not worth the effort. But we because of our experience make it that way for our sons and daughters, with good intentions of course. I know I helped my son and grandson fill every tag they ever bought and now neither one hunts? I know of other examples of the same scenario. I'm sure it's not always the case. I always felt I was doing them a huge favor, They always seemed to really enjoy it. ??? Thought I was making hunting partners for life.

From: Grousenut
10-Nov-17
Thanks for helping me keep my head on straight . My 11 year old just passed on a doe fawn. I had him aim but he passed. It was his decision and he’s very proud of the close encounter.

10-Nov-17
Elk yinzer said it quite well. I deal with it too. We work our butts off all year to make it happen during that narrow window. I say narrow window, because a lot of places and my place included are especially hard to kill a mature buck, before and after the rut. For a multitude of reasons, it just is. I've enjoyed much success, but I find myself a little cantankerous this time of year. I feel I'm that way because my mind is always playing that chess game... where to sit, should I move a stand here, or there... did I sit the wrong stand.. on and on. After the rut, it's all good and I'm back to normal, rethinking and plotting for my next ambush for late season.

Grouse, it will happen. Keep the faith and try not to stress too much. :)

From: bowyer45
10-Nov-17
The real important thing is to teach him the love of the outdoors, hunting being an important part of our heritage, not how many or how big. That holds true to me today as ever. Teach them how to build a fire, how to read sign, the flora in your area, and what the sign is saying. Pass on your tradition to him. These are the things that matter. Part of hunting is that sometimes we fail, however there's always tomorrow! In that we hope and dream! Without hope it's not hunting!

From: midwest
10-Nov-17
If you are stressed while hunting, you're doing it wrong. ;-)

Hunt like you couldn't tell anyone what you got. I wonder how many guys are passing on animals these days because what other hunters might think of their size or score. Once I started hunting for myself and not caring what anyone else thought, I started having a lot more fun.

How many guys are not going out west for the first time or doing a very low odds hunt because they don't want to come home and tell their friends and family they didn't get anything? It's all about the adventure, the hunt, seeing new places, making new friends to me. I couldn't care less if others think I'm a good hunter or not. Lot's of guys kill more stuff than me but I guarantee none of them have more fun than me!

So much fun to explore, experience, and take on challenges with a bow in your hand and a tag in your pocket. Don't waste it being stressed about a kill!

I bet your son is happy just to be spending time with dad....kill or no kill. Best of luck!

From: lawdy
10-Nov-17
I hunt a lot with my 11 year old granddaughter, and she has trapped with me since she was 5. We always have a small fire at lunch time for hot chocolate and sausage or hot dogs. She has yet to get a deer this fall, but missed a nice doe with her recurve. As far as trapping, she is deadly on mink and coyotes. We live in the boonies and when we get a bad snow storm, we like to hike out into the woods and practice starting a fire with flint and steel. It's fun and hopefully will be a life skill that might come in handy some day.

From: midwest
10-Nov-17
lawdy, those are precious times with your granddaughter. I wish more kids grew up trapping!

From: lawdy
10-Nov-17
Thanks Midwest, with the crazy world we live in, bowhunting, trapping, growing a garden, and canning are all life skills. They take our guns and we can always fashion up a primitive bow and hunt. Our electric grid goes down and a garden becomes a necessity. Trapping provides not only fur but food also.

10-Nov-17
I too support trapping, we need more of it.

As far as hunting stress, I cannot imagine that. Never had buck fever either.

From: Hawkeye
10-Nov-17
Great post Midwest. Very well said!

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