Hunting with passion will take you farther than anything else. When the mountain is just too big and too steep, it’s not physical strength that pulls me up, but a deep-seated, burning passion that keeps my legs churning. It’s much more mental than physical.
I first noticed this back in 2015 while elk hunting with my wife. In the early light I could hear the elk herd moving farther up the mountain. My legs burned as I huffed and puffed steadily behind them. Still, I didn’t stop or rest as I was compelled with great desire to catch up to them. For a moment I felt as though I’d split in half: my boundless spirit was moving ahead of my faltering body, and then reaching back to pull my body along. It was a weird mental moment, but it got me up the mountain despite the apparent physical impossibility.
That drive comes from the hope of infinite possibilities lying ahead, or some magical opportunity lurking in the near future. Unfortunately, this “drive” is nearly impossible to teach; it has to come from within.
How to Find Your Drive
Learning to be passionately driven will bring more success than anything else, even extreme physical training. If you can learn to fan that initial flame into a burning desire, then you’ll find your passion and use it as a tool.
The best way to kindle you hunting passion is to set realistic goals, and then do whatever it takes to reach them. As you begin to have small successes, set bigger goals. By continually striving for bigger and better bucks, your love for hunting grows forever.
Throughout this process, try focusing on the whole hunting package, not just the kill. Take time to appreciate the miracle and beauty of nature. Read and learn about the long history of the bow-and-arrow and its precious heritage down through the ages. Feel the power you transfer to the bow from your own body, and then observe the mystical flight of the arrow into the target. It’s a beautiful, artistic craft!
Be sure to immerse yourself completely into the entire hunting process, from preseason preparation to the final harvest. Try processing the animal’s sacred meat by yourself and you’ll attain a greater appreciation for the animal.
This is the recipe for passion that will drive your spirit up the mountain and towards long-term success.
If however your intentions are impure; if you just want to kill something with little regard for the sanctity of life; if you’re really hunting for recognition and ego, then your passion will erode and eventually falter. As exciting as the kill might be, most people—hunters and non-hunters alike—don’t really care about your success. That is, unless you shoot a real monster, in which case they’ll just be jealous.
In the end if you aren’t hunting for yourself, or your family’s dinner table, then you’ll lose your passion for the sport. That’s because the mountain is cruel; it often beats you up and holds out on you. Over time you’ll grow to resent it. Finally, one day, tragically, hunting becomes too much a burden and you don’t return.
Don’t go down this route! Instead foster your passion and you’ll find success afield, whether you harvest something or not.