I got my first license renewal notice at the beginning of the month. Instead of groaning and rolling my eyes at the thought of something else I had to add to my list of things to-do; I got incredibly excited! I purchased my first Sportsman’s license about a year ago just a day or two before I hunted for the first time, during turkey season.
This past year of hunting has flown by. It started with an incredibly wet and warm turkey season where I learned so much about my preferred hunting style. I went into season thinking I would only be a blind hunter. The blind did help keep out moisture when we set out on a rainy afternoon, waiting for rain to stop and gobbles to start again. By the end of season we tried a variation of an active style of turkey hunting called “run and gun.” This method is active, we walked around, called, set up decoys, and listened for gobbles. I was instantly hooked on this style. It was fun, engaging, and challenging in a way that blind hunting hadn’t been up until this point.
I ended turkey season having not killed a bird. I did have an incredible encounter with a hen that my boyfriend called in on the last day of season though! In addition, I got to spend quality time with my boyfriend that we hadn’t shared before. This time was special to me and I cherished it.
That first turkey season I learned so much both in the field and out of the field. I started researching more and began looking for other hunters like me; new to hunting, not from a hunting family, female, etc. I came across some great blogs that I mention in my post about how I got into hunting, I started researching every question that popped into my head online, even the silly ones like “Where do deer sleep and what do their beds look like?” I wanted to know as much as I could!
I got into archery before my first hunt and LOVED it! I continued to grow my love for archery with a new bow. I got involved with tuning my bow and figuring out it’s dynamics. Yes, my boyfriend knows how to tune a bow but I wanted to learn it myself. He did share knowledge with me and watch as I moved my sight too far all at once and let me learn other tuning lessons as well.
We started scouting for deer on public land before turkey season, took turkey season off from scouting to hunt turkey on public land, and picked scouting back up in the spring and summer. We tried to pattern deer throughout the summer only to find out that once hunting season started everything changed.
Deer season came, and by this time I was really coming into my own with hunting. I think I only hunted twice with my boyfriend in the same spot as me; my first hunt and my last hunt when I harvested my doe. I found that walking in or out in the dark was not my favorite thing when heading to my stand. At a certain point during deer season I decided I liked morning hunts better because when I left it was light. I had some close encounters with copperheads and coyotes but was only made stronger from these. Although, I really don’t like walking through fields because of snakes and I make sure to have bear spray handy, especially when it’s only me going into the woods.
I killed my first deer, a doe, on December 9th. I had imagined what it would be like to kill a deer many times but the reality was unlike anything I expected. That’s when I started this blog, in order to process my emotions from my first kill. I now use it to document our hunts, how we prepare for hunts and things I’m learning along the way.
This past year, I didn’t just start to come into my own with hunting, I started to come into my own as a conservationist and a lover of nature. I already knew I liked the outdoors, but I started to love and appreciate them even more. If I came across a plant I couldn’t recognize I would look it up in a book or online, if I heard a call from an animal, I would listen to clips until I figured out what that animal was. I started listening to Podcasts to hear other hunters perspectives and to stay up to date on what goes on in the hunting community and felt enlightened. There were other hunters out there who had the same struggles, joys, and realizations in the field as me!
I’ve learned hunting is more than just killing an animal, it is a love and an appreciation of nature. I believe I’m a better outdoorsman because I hunt. I hope that this next year of hunting I continue to develop my confidence, that I learn even more, and I continue to be a good steward for hunting.