Persistence was another common factor that was spoken of often as I interviewed the distinguished panel of bowhunters.
Jace Bauserman , a successful “spot and stalk” guru and editor of Bowhunt America, states it this way, “I have found that persistence covers a multitude of errors. Understand, I’m not saying to take the “savvy” out of your bowhunting, but everybody messes up. It is the guys who keep going, keep trying, and never quit who bag their game on a consistent basis.”
As I continued to compare the notes and comments from the successful bowhunters I interviewed, I was surprised how much they talked about failure. It was even to the point where they seemed like they expected it. Randy Ulmer discussed his thoughts on failure by saying this, “Bowhunting is a sport that you fail the vast majority of the time, and you have to realize that somewhere between 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 stalks will actually be successful. If you can live with those odds and still enjoy bowhunting then you will be more successful.”
Understanding and accepting that failure is a part of bowhunting, and persevering despite that fact, is a vital component to your consistent success. Dan Stanton, an accomplished archery hunter and owner of the website Train to Hunt, succinctly shares his philosophy on persistence saying, “Resiliency is the key, and you only fail when you do not get up!”
Another key thread that runs commonly through elite bowhunters is a competitive tenacity. I noticed that the majority of them hate to lose at anything. This trait comes in handy when the going gets tough. Kirk Edgerton, a hardcore bowhunter from northern California states confidently, “You have to never give up. You’ve got to have a ‘do or die’ attitude on the mountain. Don’t accept failure as the final result, but rather make things happen. Use the entire day to hunt, glass, and study animals. Ask yourself what you’re doing to find and harvest your target animal every minute of the day.”
Chad Baart, another successful archery hunter from Idaho and founder of Hunter’s Journey Magazine puts it this way, “Just when you think that it’s time to head back to the comfort of your easy chair that is the time that you need to focus the hardest. Weather patterns and moon phases alter favorable conditions that one may be used to, but even then that bull elk or buck of a lifetime may be just around the next bend. Pushing through difficult times to make it happen yields a satisfaction that is second to none when it all comes together.”
One point that was brought up by Jerod Fink, a successful bowhunter who works with Wilderness Athlete, was the issue of time. I had never really looked at time in the field as a factor in tipping the scales in the favor of a successful bowhunter. Jerod made a great point in saying, “In the context of bowhunting, time means structuring your life to maximize the time you can spend in the field. Having a job or career that takes 90 hours a week of work from August to December is not something conducive to hunting success. Work and life schedules need to be structured to maximize your amount of time in the field when seasons are open.” Time is important as persistence is born out of time and a resilient attitude.
I have also come to understand that when these future bowhunting “Hall of Famers” say that they will never quit, it is said with a grain of salt. Randy Ulmer said it best when he told me, “There actually is a time to quit, and there is a time to back off. Weather, safety issues, and understanding that you as a bowhunter may have a very low percentage chance of taking that buck or bull on a particular stalk, might be the exact time to quit. You might need to back out and try again on another day or regroup and use another technique. Quitting, under some circumstances, can actually help you be more successful on another day.”
By taking an increased persistence into the backcountry, you too can become a 10 percenter!
(Check out Trev’s next blog as he reveals the 4th secret to becoming a 10 percenter – Part 4 Motivation)