Do You Need an Attitude Adjustment? I Did.

Sometimes we bowhunters need an attitude adjustment in order to truly appreciate the many blessings in our lives.
Do You Need an Attitude Adjustment? I Did.

attitudeMy 2018 whitetail season, had, as it often does, turned to a grind. I don’t mind the grind. Never have. In fact, I embrace it. There’s something about waking early, long before the sun begins to think about trading places with the moon, and crawling under the covers late at night that appeals to me. Repeating the process day after day hardens the mind and ushers in, at least for me, a strange sense of clarity and focus. The longer and harder the grind, the more magical that well-deserved moment of truth often is.

It was early November, and my grind was in full swing. I’d spent the last week of October trying to harvest a public land Colorado buck before the arrival of the orange army. I had four stands situated on a chunk of open-to-anyone dirt that required either a long walk or mountain bike ride. The venture to my stands coupled with the 20-minute drive from the house required the beep of the alarm to be set around 4 a.m.

Though I had a few encounters with some small scrappers, my target buck never showed. I left Colorado directly from that public land parking lot midmorning on last day of the first archery split and pointed the Chevy toward Nebraska. November was just around the corner, and I was ready to match wits with a few Lincoln State brutes.

Trail cams, which had been placed weeks in advance by my good buddy and certified whitetail guru, Terron Bauer, showed increasing buck activity. One buck in particular, a solid 140-inch 8-point, caught my eye. I love mature 8s. After some discussion, a good night’s sleep and a quick morning hunt in a stand Terron had already hung, I was able to slip in and do a hang-and-hunt in what we felt was the buck’s core turf.

Fifteen minutes after I got my Summit situated high in a less-than-straight cottonwood, I saw him. I didn’t catch a flash of movement or have a doe come bounding through. It was much less dramatic. I simply turned in my stand to adjust my Ozonics unit and the buck was standing in some CRP 80 yards behind my stand. Moments later, he melted into the timber, only to reappear 20-minutes later in a small block of timber in front of my stand. He was walking directly away. I grunted. He stopped. I waited. He resumed his steady gate. I snort-wheezed. He turned on a dime and started coming.

At 50 yards, the wise old warrior stopped, turned on a different trail — one that would take him downwind of my position — and kept going. Seconds later, he snorted, blew and bounded away. I was sick!

Nine solid buck encounters and five all-day sits later, and I was beginning to feel the grind like never before. At the time, I wasn’t sure why. Of the nine encounters I’d had, seven of them could have easily ended with a loosed arrow, but I had my mind set on the big 8.

I was beginning to question my own sanity during my last few moments on stand when, much like he did on day one, the buck magically appeared. He emerged on the same trail and was coming right toward me. This time he stopped at 40 yards and snapped his head straight up at me. Panic set in. I reconfirmed the range, drew and shot. Just like that, and honestly, just that fast, it was over. The shot flew over his back. So much for that moment of truth being all the sweeter.

attitudeOn the Road Again

That afternoon, I traveled 2 hours to meet up with the Grand View Outdoors team in Kansas. Disgusted with myself, I put the past behind me and climbed into a towering hardwood at 2 p.m. At 2:45 p.m., a solid 135-inch 9-point walked right under my stand. I tried, multiple times to make the buck go 140 inches, but I couldn’t. The outfitter had a firm 140-inch policy, and I wanted to honor it. However, deep down in my gut, I felt a small ember start to burn. The ember was anger.

Four all-day sits and five separate encounters with bucks ranging from 125 to 130 inches later, I left the Sunflower State with a tag still in my pocket. That ember of anger turned to a ridiculous, full-blown crappy attitude. This wasn’t the normal grind I was used to; this was different.

Thank God for the 6-hour drive back to Colorado. The drive, and time spent on the phone with a good buddy, along with a lengthy conversation with the Man Upstairs, gave me time to reflect. I realized how obsessed I’d become. I wasn’t enjoying the grind, because I’d made everything about harvesting a mature buck — or two, or three. I wasn’t calling home at night or Facetiming with my kids. I wasn’t telling my wife about my adventures and the encounters I’d had. I wasn’t spending time thanking God for just making me a bowhunter. My priorities were flat wrong. Sound at all familiar?

There’s No Place Like Home

I arrived back home on November 18, and though I’d had time to reflect, I fell right back into my bad routine. I crushed out some work, hugged my family — I think — and bounded out the door. I did this for 3 days in a row, and each day, I had an encounter with at least one shooter buck. But for one reason or another, something, at the last minute, went wrong.

That fourth night, while packing up my gear and prepping for the next day’s hunt, something happened. My wife, who is the most unselfish person I know, came into the garage and asked, “What can I make you to eat tomorrow?” She had a sad look on her face and the smile she tried to create was forced. I was disgusted with myself! Sure, I had time to reflect during that ride home, but I’d gained zero perspective. With a smile, I tossed my pack in the corner and said, “Nothing, because I’m taking the rest of November off.”

Her jaw hit the floor. I laughed and said, “Get the kids, we’re going out to dinner.” And that was the last day I spent bowhunting in November. Was it torture? Not at all. It was refreshing, and I, by the Grace of God, gained a new perspective on faith, family and bowhunting.

I didn’t crawl back in a treestand until mid-December. It felt great. I felt alive, but most importantly, the simple joy of just bowhunting shot through my veins. Minutes into the morning a fat doe strolled down the frosted trail and offered me an 18-yard chip shot. I took it, and oh did it feel good. Pretty amazing what can happen when you’re just bowhunting and not obsessing.

I’m excited for the fall of 2018, ready to once again embrace the grind I love so much, but excited to be embracing that grind with a new outlook and perspective. How about you? Does this story resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at


The author reaps the rewards of a season-saving attitude adjustment.


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