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Old 01-24-2023, 04:36 PM   #1
Pope & Young
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Fort Worth, Tx
Hunt In: Jones County and Missouri
Default The last deer season

The last few seasons I've tried to focus less on the size of the bucks I hunt and kill and more on enjoying every hunt and kill. It seems that too often the "give him another year" approach was in fact I never saw them again or someone else didn't have the same approach for that deer. Don't get me wrong, I'm still letting most young bucks grow and my ranch partners appreciate that, but I don't have a problem shooting a meat buck either.
Yes killing "management" buck and doe is fun I guess but there was a growing discouragement in me realizing that each year was starting without the promise of that 150 buck as a possibility no matter how much time, money and effort I was spending.
So with my focus changing that way I still struggle with insisting on only killing them with a trad bow and leaving tags on the table and worse, one season, coming up a little short on freezer filling. I have worked through some of that as well, but this season I got another thing to think about.

What if this were my last season? What if I get the news I won't get another? Did I mess up passing that wide 8? Should I have taken more shots early and filled all of my tags?

We all read and comment on threads about how this season was slow or weird or down because of drought, acorns etc. And honestly it was for me. Killed two small bucks, one here and Missouri, two doe here and a couple of African animals although I doubt they count for "the season".
Although from an antler and number of kill perspective it was "slow", all and all, it was a pretty satisfying season for me.

Some good friends got some nice kills with their trad bows and the excitement of them doing well was intense. Even though the buck in Missouri was one I normally wouldn't shoot having to hunt hard and move stands and on the last day . . . It made it a very real "trophy" hunt for me. It seemed that every nuance of the season was a pause to reflect on and appreciate.

A lot of hardship of friends and family the last year and half, two years have caused me to really look at a sunrise in the stand differently. Everything my friend Randy, his wife and family endured, to my own brother's ongoing battle with cancer, to watching a friend struggling with his ability to be effective with his trad bow, have given me a profound appreciation for what I have, get to do, and the ones I care about who share in this love of hunting and the outdoors.

Dave didn't get a single day in the woods last fall. Chemo for the intial cancer wore him out and now the brain tumor has him barely able to walk. The fall before he wounded and lost two deer. Something he had never had happen. Disappointed as he was, now I wonder if it weighs on him that, what if that were his last season?

As a survivor of four cardiac incidents including some stents, of being on a dock hit by a tornado, having been in a serious car accident losing some inards and a couple of other serious injuries it makes me think, what if this were my last season?

I do know one thing. If it was, I had a memorable one. Not necessarily in ways I would have measured it in years ago, but in ways the intangible outweighs the tangible. I'm grateful for my family and friends. Enjoyed my hunting partners, even if we only enjoy hunting together through texts and TBH.

I look forward to next season with complete acknowledgement I'm not promised it. But if I get the news it most likely won't happen, I can go on to the next step knowing my last hunting season went well. And I was blessed with good memories and meat.
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