Persevering through the Hunt: Finding Purpose in the Wait

What exactly is perseverance? Perseverance is steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success (Google).There’s always a message in the wait. Most people though, don’t receive it. We often get so caught up in the wait that we miss the message. Today, I share with you the message I received after persevering through a recent hunt.

So, yesterday I shot my first deer. If you’re a vegan, PETA member, or otherwise going to judge me please stop here, I’d really rather not offend anyone. Otherwise, continue for the message.  It’s taken me a year of constant focus to accomplish such a thing. Whitetail hunting is not nearly as easy as it looks. Yes, there are opportunities to go to a ranch or lease, where literally all you have to do is point and shoot to bag a trophy buck, but this is not one of those situations.

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Here’s where the perseverance comes in. I own 25 acres in Texas. Most big time hunters would say that it’s not nealy enough to hunt on. Guess what? With enough time and hard work using perseverance, it actually works out just fine. We’ve only owned the land for a couple of years, and we don’t reside there. Since then we’ve harvested 5 deer. It’s taken perseverance to locate the deer, and to track movement (we use Browning cameras). You also have to determine what kind of food they desire (we use Martindale Feed), and establish tree stands or blinds accordingly. Not only do you have to do all this prep work over a long period of time, you have to know how to shoot as well.

Fortunately for me, I have military weapons training and am familiar with a rifle. It’s not nearly as easy as it looks. You don’t just point and shoot. Doing so is completely irresponsible because the last thing you want to do is injure or maim an animal. The goal is a clean shot with minimal pain. You have to persevere through determining what rifle to use, (I use a Remington 700)  what sight or scope to use (I use a Vortex Diamondback) , and what type of ammo to use. Once you have all this in place you have to be able to shoot the weapon, zeroing is not always an easy task. At the land, we started from scratch and had to build a range to shoot at.

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We did everything right, and last year I still sat through an entire season…with no deer. Don’t get me wrong, they were all over the cameras, just before and after I left the blind of course, the smart ones feed only at night (for those of you who don’t hunt, there are a limited number of daylight hours you can hunt). Anyway, my aim isn’t to go over the technical and tactical details too much, just enough for you to get the picture of hunting as a sporting event that requires endurance.

If I counted up the hours of waiting for my first deer, it would certainly add to a couple hundred. All the while, visitors to the land and my husband are getting them left and right. Seconds after I get a call on the radio that one of them had gotten one and I hadn’t seen a thing, I had a decision to make. Sit it out, or call it a day. I had taken a moment to reflect on everything it took to get me here in this moment and the frustration of having nothing to show for it, nearly caused me to quit. Just as I was getting my stuff together to leave, a big ole’ doe stuck her head out of the woodline. I sighted her in, and took my shot. It couldn’t have gone more perfect. It was a double lung shot, she dropped instantly and it was as painless for her as possible. My perseverance allowed me to experience the sport of hunting and the joy of feeding my family something that I had harvested myself.

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I’ve spent my life persevering through recovery. I’ve recovered from an absent alcoholic father,  teenage miscarriage, an addiction to vicodin and ecstasy, my own alcoholism,  PTSD, and the list goes on. I’ve persevered through some difficult circumstances, so when I find the opportunity to challenge myself, I generally do so. I’ve challenged myself by building a career in the military, obtaining my MA Degree, and Blogging about my recovery journey. While hunting may not be as complex in nature as these adventures, it has become one of my favorite sports.

On a therapeutic note, I find mindfulness in nature, regardless of what I’m doing. Sitting in a blind day in and day out with nothing to show can be really frustrating, but I’ve had some of the most wonderful conversations with God in the wait. My heart always gets a tad heavy, wishing my father or grandfather were able to be here with me in the hunt, but my mind already knows they are still here, even though they are long gone. Within minutes of my first deer, while waiting for her to peacefully pass, 2 beautiful cardinals blessed me with their presence. They were just outside the window of my blind. It is said that cardinals are the representatives of loved ones who have passed away. I’m pretty sure Grandpa and Dad are proud of me.

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Stay sober my friends.

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