I’ve had the privilege to talk to literally thousands of deer hunters over the years, whether at my Lodge, at Sportsman shows or doing my seminars on Hunting in the Big woods. Talking to other hunters has helped me understand a lot about what makes a deer hunter tick and especially the Big Woods deer hunter. Deer hunters all share the love of the outdoors in one way or another. Some are content to just get into the woods and enjoy the solitude without any big expectation of shooting a buck. They love to read deer hunting stories as well as talk deer hunting with friends.
There is also a group of deer hunters who study deer hunting by reading every book and article they can get their hands on. They will try every trick or gadget that they have heard about thinking that they have found the silver bullet to getting a big buck. These hunters whether successful or not put a lot of effort into their hunting. If they are successful they are convinced it was because of the latest tip or gadget was responsible, so they will continue to hunt that way whether it ever works for them again or not. These hunters tend to be on information overload and do not know how to sort through it all and figure out what really work consistently for them.
The other group of deer hunters are the ones that have achieved a consistent level of success and have the photos and mounts to prove it. These hunters where either taught by their father or another deer hunter who took them under their wing. They then continue to hone their skills throughout their hunting career and are willing to pass on the torch to the next generation. Anyone of these groups of hunters can move to the next level if they choose to. Many hunters are content to keep on hunting the way they always have and that is great. Hunting is not a competitive sport between hunters. It is about a hunter matching wits with their game.
These categories of hunters hold true for the Big Woods hunters as well. I like to teach people about the ways of the Big Woods Whitetail. These bucks are so much different than any other, that hunters that have not experienced the Big Woods, have trouble comprehending the differences. I find that hunters are intrigued by Big Woods hunting and will read everything they can about it and the experiences of others. They love to hear the stories and watch videos of hunting in the Big Woods. Deer hunters from anywhere are the most intrigued by tracking. They would love to try it and a lot of them will plan a trip with the intent of doing so. For a lot of hunters, that is where it ends. It took me a long time to figure out why it is that so many hunters have the interest but cannot seem to carry it through on their own. It finally dawned on me that it was “fear”. Fear of getting lost is the biggest fear followed by fear that they wouldn’t be able to do it alone.
I’ve had several serious Big Woods hunters ask me if I was afraid that by teaching all the hunters about the Big Woods, that they would end up shooting all the bucks. I would just laugh and say, most of them will never do it! the truth is whether it’s deer hunting, golfing or skiing, there is only a small percentage of participants will ever put in the effort to get good at it. If you are one of the Big Woods hunters who just loves to be out there, good for you for being in the game. If you are the hunter who wants to make Big Woods hunting your addiction, you have to set yourself free from fear. The first step to this this is to learn map and compass inside and out. If you are comfortable knowing you will not get lost, your mind will be clear for the task at hand, which is chasing after a buck. It is really that simple. Fear of being lost will keep you from following that track wherever it may go. A GPS is a handy tool but do not trust your life on it. You can although, trust your life to your compass as generations of hunters have in the past.
For all of you deer hunters, at whatever level you choose to pursue your passion, whether in the Big Woods or the farm country, thank you for keeping the tradition going. If you are like me and have got the Big Woods “disease”, for which there is no cure!
Good luck on the trail!