Well, it’s been a couple months since my first post walking through all the facets of planning an out of state hunt. At this point, I will be hitting the mountain in almost exactly three months, and I couldn’t be more excited! I also couldn’t be more aware that there is still so much to do. So, at the three-months and counting mark, here is what I’ve done and where the whole process stands.
Sarah and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Not exactly a major milestone or anything, but we’re three kids into this thing and still extremely happy (tired…but happy). We also find ourselves in a season where we seem to have a bunch of younger people in our lives getting married, engaged, or becoming Instagram-official…love is in the air, I guess. And because of that, I find myself talking to a lot of guys asking the same question: how do you have an awesome marriage? Here are three things that have kept Sarah and I going through even the toughest seasons of our marriage…
No one likes to talk about it (or even admit they’ve experienced it), but it’s real…very real! Something about hunting and the outdoors tends to bring out our most puffed-out-chest, manly-man, I-can-handle-anything version of ourselves, and so we minimize those parts of us that feel like we can’t handle anything. And because of that phenomenon, no one wants to talk about how frightening it can be to find yourself alone in the backcountry. All by yourself, not another human for miles, just you and whatever you can’t see out there in the dark…I don’t care who you are, some part of you is going to be afraid. But, how do you get past it so you can stay out and keep hunting???
I was afraid this day would come. Thinking back on my 10 year-old self, I would have LOVED the chance for someone to take me hunting. I was an outdoors kid in a non-outdoors family, and ever since my little ones were babies, I was determined that they were going to have the wild, outdoors childhood I wished I could have had. But, fearing the answer, I asked him: “buddy, do you even like hunting? It’s okay, just tell me the truth.” Even though I knew it was coming, it still stung like a hot knife in my back: “No, dad…I hate hunting! It’s so boring! We have to walk a million miles carrying heavy stuff, and we usually don’t even see anything. I hate it!” The ball’s in your court, Dad…what do you do with that one?
As a gun-owning father, I always wanted my kids to have a healthy respect for firearms, and to have the knowledge to remain safe around them. I didn’t want them to have outright fear of the inanimate object itself, but I also wanted them to be fully aware of their destructive potential. But, how to do that effectively????
So, you didn’t get drawn for elk in your home state (story of my life here in AZ), or you live in a part of the country that simply doesn’t have elk hunting. You’ve watched all the shows, been sucked deeply into the YouTube vortex of Western elk hunting, and would LOVE to chase these majestic creatures this fall. But, where do you even start? It’s hard enough to navigate your local hunting options…now you’re gonna throw a dart on a map in an area you’ve NEVER been before, travel hundreds of miles, and hit the trail hoping that everything comes together? The idea of taking your first out of state hunting adventure is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.
In my relatively short bowhunting career, I have had three wildly different bow shopping and/or tuning experiences at three different locations. A big box store and two different independent archery shops - two experiences were terrible and one was fantastic. Having now experienced some of the worst in the bow-world as well as some of the most amazing archery professionals, I am firmly convinced that EVERY archer needs to have an ongoing relationship with a really good bow shop. Here’s why and how to identify one…
I LOVE sharing my passion for the outdoors with my family and seeing my son have some great first-time experiences, but there are those moments where the hunt is impeded, where whining is the order of the day, and where I am just ready to start a full-fledged dad-rant! So, how do you do it? How can you create awesome memories and raise your kids with a love of the outdoors without going insane? Well, I’m certainly still figuring it out, but here are five things I’ve learned that help everyone have a much better time. There will still be periods of frustration and “teachable moments” (translation: those times when you might just leave your whining son on the side of the mountain), but these ideas can help mitigate the worst of it.
So, I had now accepted I was not fully prepared physically or mentally for the rigors of western mountain hunting, but what was I to do? I still had years of research and practical experience telling me that extended cardio sessions only serve to break-down muscle tissue, that total body strength was better than balancing on a ball while holding a 5 lb. dumbbell in a strange pose, and the simple fact that I like being strong and didn’t want to go back to being lanky and weak (what can I say, my wife is now very attached to my big, squatting butt). Well, as is often the case, it seems the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I didn’t need to swear-off barbells and start running marathons, but I also didn’t need to just keep pushing for new PRs all the time.
So, let’s say you’re ready to head to Amazon or your local gun shop to pick up a pair of sights for your carry pistol of choice. Surprise…there are 9,000 different options in the night sight game, and for every three people in the room, you’ll get five opinions on “the only ones any person who doesn’t want their whole family to die would ever carry”…it’s one of the biggest debates in the pistol world, second only to Glock vs. All-Things-Not-Glock. Some are designed to be super quick, some are designed for more precision, one dot, two dot, three dot. And of course, laser sights and holographic red dots are becoming increasingly popular. But which option is best for YOU???