26 Jan Hunting VS. Fishing
As I sat head-on into the freezing wind and sideways sleet of a fierce Kansas rainstorm, I could feel the tree swaying several feet in each direction. I watched my bow dangle on its hanger as I sat buried in my camo trying to conserve heat. It was one of those days where I probably should not have been in the tree, and if I lived there, and had more time to pick my days, I likely would not be. But I was only there for a week and not unlike fishing in Alaska through rough weather days, you do what you need to do. Me blowing around in a tree stand during a near typhoon carries about the same success rate as fishing the Kenai after a huge rainstorm when it colors the shade of chocolate milk. Are you bucking the odds? Yes. Do you have much choice? No. Is there a chance? Always.
Whether it be the peak run timing for Kenai Kings or the peak of the rut in your favorite whitetail woods, timing along with weather conditions play a huge role in your success. Being there at the right time and the right place is always the key, but if conditions are not in your favor, you are in for a challenge. The tough part about weather conditions is all the planning, timing and practice in the world cannot combat mother nature. All you can do is give it 100%; some things are simply beyond your control. Comparisons between fishing and hunting are many. My hunting experiences have helped put into perspective what many of my customers have gone through in their quest for a big king salmon or a monster halibut. Through the years I have seen many whom have never even held a fishing pole land trophy fish within minutes of being on the water. On the other hand, I have many clients that have fished many seasons without ever landing a 50+ lb. king or100+ lb. halibut. I’ve had similar roller coaster success when it comes to hunting. I took a Boone and Crockett Sitka Blacktail on my first big game hunt ever. My hunting buddies just shook their heads. I was the ten year old kid that lands a 75 pound Kenai king on the first drift of the day.
I’ve come to realize that’s just not how things usually work. After several years and many hours in Midwest tree stands, a mature, respectable whitetail buck has yet to hit the dirt. I’ve also been back to northern California three times via horseback in search of a nice Columbia blacktail but after weeks in the mountains…no dice. Along the way it helps to be reminded that it’s the overall experience that counts. It’s all about the journey, not necessarily the final destination. Much like an ever maturing investment, putting time in toward a specific accomplishment will only make the final payoff that much more gratifying. Fair chase hunting and fishing never offers any guarantees, and at times very little rhyme or reason, yet one lesson always seems to ring true: keep at it and it will happen. Eventually it always does.
This combination of perseverance and eventual reward has delivered some really incredible moments for me through the years. My first 20 lb. rainbow trout, my first 20 lb. steelhead, the trophy Sitka Blacktail on Kodiak Island, and most recently this fall, a 65 inch bull moose. All of these memories took many hours afield to achieve, yet it’s not so much the individual moments that resonate in your memory. I enjoy remembering all that surrounded and contributed to making the memories happen. The friends and family you shared your fishing and hunting experiences with, the hardships you went through along the way, all the planning and preparation you undertook, the many trips you took that were not so successful…it’s all part of the deal.