The worst part of any hunt, whether successful or not, is the day after it comes to an end. If it was a success, you don’t want that feeling to be over. You relive it over and over through recounts of the hunt to friends and pictures taken during the hunt. If unsuccessful, you want more time to try to fill that tag, and you are left to second guess every decision you made or every blown stalk from the hunt. What could you do better? What would have made the hunt end in a punched tag?
When the Arizona fall draw results came out this year, and I realized I had drawn one of the few draw-only Archery Arizona Deer tags, I was excited beyond belief! I typically hunt the desert units during August that are available to all archery hunters over-the-counter. So, the opportunity to hunt deer in the cool pines of northern Arizona, one of the best units in the state for Mule deer, was a dream come true. I quickly came to realize that with new terrain comes new challenges.
As a desert hunter, my optics are key to my success. In the units I typically hunt, I can glass for miles and find game at almost any time. The unit I drew, was mostly thick cover and the open areas were now overgrown with new growth from a past fire. I realized soon enough that I would have to adapt and change the way I am used to locating deer. My old standby Swarovski EL 12x50s were just a little bit too powerful for the tight quarters we would be hunting. The answer, was a pair of Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42s. Compact, and lightweight these binos were easy to use while stalking feeding bucks in the thick cover.
As hunters and people, we sometimes shy away from change in our everyday life. If we know that we have had success doing something one way, the fear of failure prevents us from changing tactics. We do this with equipment, hunting units, species we hunt, and almost everything in our daily lives. For instance, when is the last time you took a different route home from work? Probably never. Sometimes, those changes are the key to success.
So, next season try putting in for a new area or unit and challenge yourself as a hunter to learn a new way to hunt. Even if unsuccessful, the experience is invaluable and will make you a better hunter. Thankfully, this time, I could conquer the challenge of change and was rewarded with a freezer full of meat and a story I will be recounting for years to come.