Choosing a hunting buddy is a tricky and delicate situation. Maybe you’re not ready to ditch your current hunting partner, but be honest. Some of you guys have experienced times you wished the guy just wouldn’t show up. In fact, not showing up is a possible hint of what’s ahead on future hunts.
Here is a sampling of some of the situations my friends and I have come across over the years.
1. Lack Of Funds
I’m a cheapskate, although I prefer the term “frugal.” Nevertheless, when it comes to hunting, my wallet isn’t locked with a 20-character-encrypted security code. If it’s time to add an upgrade to my rifle, fill the truck with fuel, purchase lunch at an outback convenience store or even lay down my Visa for a room, I know you have to pay to play. Why don’t others always see hunting in that same 20/20 vision?
So here’s a little story. There was a new hunting location that was just too far away to justify only hunting one day. Unfortunately, the temperatures were a bit too frigid for camping. A small-town motel room wouldn’t cost much, so I made a plan. An acquaintance through work had been begging me to take him on a coyote hunt. He was a bachelor, had a nice truck and seemed flush with cash. He accepted my invite and the hunt was on.
We took off in the wee hours of the morning. Before leaving our hometown I stopped to top off the truck, my truck. He didn’t offer to drive or to pay for the first tank. It didn’t raise an eyebrow then, but it should have. Our next stop was just before sunrise. I topped the truck off — again, my treat — and grabbed some groceries for a cooler-style lunch later in the day. Yes, that was my treat as well. I guess chivalry isn’t dead, as my partner wasn’t about to consider “going Dutch.”
Related: How to bowhunt on a budget
Toward sunset with only one coyote riding comfortably in the back of my truck, I swung toward town to grab a motel and some much-needed rest after the coyote beating we took. Out of nowhere my partner unexpectedly brought up the fact that he can’t overnight and hunt part of the next day. His girlfriend was adamant. He had to be home. I didn’t argue and headed the truck back east to begin the midnight express. Besides, she needed him. I didn’t, especially after he jumped out without so much as tossing me a Jackson for fuel.
2. Lack Of Gear
In my early years, I was desperate. I truly wanted to find a hunting partner to share the outdoor experience — but I was a bit too desperate. Through a friend of a friend, I was introduced to a young hunter eager to call coyotes. He seemed to be an enthusiastic and cordial fellow. I suggested we hit the fields together on the upcoming weekend for calling.
The evening before the hunt, he called. I thought it was a confirmation of the rendezvous time. I was wrong. Instead, the guy proceeded to query me if I had extra hunting clothes, extra cold-weather boots, extra predator calls and an extra rifle. Apparently his “extra” inventory was extra out of stock.
With a questioning tone I asked him what hunting he had done in the past, a question I should have started with before the invite. You guessed it. He had never been predator hunting before. His only experience with hunting was as a guest on a pheasant hunt the previous fall. The only hunting gear he had was a freebie blaze orange hat his hunting friends crowned upon him during the social-style hunt. In big bold letters it proudly stated “Big Cock Country.” I didn’t ask any further questions.
Being a nice guy, I corralled some extra clothes, a pair of military surplus Mickey Mouse boots, an old mouth call, a Nikon rangefinder and my deer rifle in 7mm Remington magnum. Sure the rifle was a bit of overkill, but back then the only other alternative I had was a malfunctioning .22LR. Can you say “jammed again?” I also dug through my clothing stash and found a camouflaged stocking hat. The blaze orange hat was fine for tromping cornfields, but a bit too vogue for coyote country.
As I remember, winds battered us most of the day. Coyotes weren’t even close to tepid in response, and I finally tipped one over right before sunset. I don’t think he ever got past the part of how the bolt action worked on his rifle, much less the concept of a variable riflescope. We parted ways and from then on just waved to each other in the grocery aisles.
3. Lack Of Equal Investment
One of the reasons it’s good to have a hunting buddy or two is it helps hunters find new land, whether sharing secret locations or heading in a new direction to scout new real estate. One hunting buddy shared this experience. A locally known hunter approached him about hunting together. The two started out by visiting all of my friend’s property, both public and private. Whenever a landowner was present, my friend introduced them, along with giving the new guy a brief overview of the best hunting sites. He even showed this guy ways to backdoor access some area public lands, including one road that everyone believed to have been vacated.
The first weekend was all sharing on my friend’s part. The duo set up a time to meet the upcoming weekend. It never happened. The new guy called to say he couldn’t go. Some family issue had arisen. In reality the new guy was hopscotching back to the locations, meeting with landowners and scouting out the public lands solo. Why? He had another dude he usually hunted with. And my friend also shockingly found out he was no longer alone on many of the properties that for years he had to himself.
4. Lack Of Common Sense
A local hunter stopped me at the gas station one afternoon and suggested he go along with me on an upcoming cross-country jaunt. The guy talked tough and knew something about backcountry hunting, so I invited him along with positive thoughts about his stated stamina for backpacking duties.
The hunt started out fine. But after we’d walked about two miles in, I noticed he was wheezing and looking pale. I pointed in the direction we were going and started post-holing through the snow. “Hey,” I heard from behind me. “Why don’t you go ahead and I’ll head back to the truck and pick you up on the opposite side of the tract.”
It’s better to divorce than to perform CPR in the field.
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