Joy is defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a feeling of great happiness.” I love that definition. The definition of happiness as defined by the same online tool as “the state of being happy.” I start this blog in this way to show there is a definitive difference between joy and happiness. Happiness come and goes. It’s the state of being happy for a short amount of time, right? Joy, on the other hand, is a feeling of great happiness — happiness that lasts and that’s always there. I’m a joyful bowhunter… are you?

It’s something to ponder. I spent a lot of time thinking on this as I watched the Oklahoma sunrise this morning. It was a magical. God smeared shades of purple, blue, orange, red, and yellow across the sky, but not just standard shades. These were shades so beautiful that they didn’t look real. I was busy posing my just-harvested fall turkey up for a photo when I had to take time to admire this gorgeous landscape.

I’ve been super happy many times as a bowhunter, typically after killing an animal, and the bigger the animal was, the happier I was. In fact, I experienced happiness when I killed this turkey. It was awesome. However, I soon realized that happiness faded  quickly. Why? I believe it’s because  killing is such a small part of the bowhunting experience. It’s here and gone in the blink of an eye. Yes, we have the memories forever, but the actual moment of killing is short lived. The preparation, training, shooting, tuning, gear, setting stands, popping up blinds, etc. — that’s the process. When that process leads to success in the bowhunting woods, and if we take time to reflect on the process, that’s what creates pure, never-ending bowhunting joy.

I’ve harvested three critters on this Sooner State trip — none of them with horns — and I’ve had an absolute blast. I was happy to shoot those three critters, and, to be honest, the fall turkey topped it off for me. But I have joy — pure bowhunting joy — when I pause and think about the months of shooting that lead to three perfectly placed arrows. When I recall the countless running miles (each one dedicated to the sport of bowhunting), sharing the experiences of this hunt with my good friends, and pulling the trail cameras and hanging the stands, I experience great joy.

So, take a minute and reflect on your own bowhunting journey, and ask yourself one simple question — am I a joyful bowhunter? If you’re not, I highly suggest you make some changes. Joyful bowhunting to everyone!