Last year at this time I was researching bow brands and anxiously anticipating the fall, which would be my first deer season, both ever and with the Deer30 team. I was about to take on the role of “rookie”, and I definitely felt like one. I feel like I must have called or texted Randy, Daniel, Kevin, Adam or Levi at least twice a day last summer. At the time, I didn’t realize what I was witnessing…the physical manifestation of one of the pillars of the sport of hunting…Teaching. What the guys were graciously showing me was that any hunter should always be available to teach, or to bring an eager new person to the fold. Whether they be young or old, passing lessons along is what has and will always sustain this sport.
No sooner did I buy my first bow, and deer season was upon us. Talk about nerves! I had been out with Randy on a few occasions, but never wielding my own equipment. The team was in MD for the whole week. I took advantage. Whether it was Adam correcting my grip, Daniel tweaking my stance, or Randy sitting with me in the tree, I had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips. The only thing we lacked that week were opportunities. Poor neighbors etiquette and hot weather added up to a thin week, but no matter. I had walked alongside my new brothers and they, in turn, accepted me as a colleague. When talk of a MD reunion in November for the rut arose, I was more than psyched!
Sadly, when November arrived, I was dealing with a shoulder injury, and could not raise my bow, let alone draw it. When Daniel arrived from Virginia, he and Randy and Levi pressed on without me. I was, for lack of a better word, pissed. In my head, the season was a waste. No shots, no meat in the fridge, no first deer. Angrily, I packed the bow away and began the long wait until next year. Until….
Randy contacted me in late winter to gauge my interest in heading to Virginia for opening weekend of spring gobbler. Trepidation, once again, knowing I knew nothing of turkey hunting. But before my brain could count me out, “I’m in!” came out of my face. That’s the first time I realized the change I was experiencing as part of this team. Knowing these guys had my back, it didn’t matter that I was green. I’m in I’m going. Let’s do it. It’s a far different mantra than the hesitation and timidity of the previous September. And man was it worth it. As much as I love sitting in a tree stand waiting on a deer, this weekend was not that… and I loved it too! For a first turkey hunt, the set-up we encountered and the results were not ideal, but I didn’t care. I had the best time in one of my favorite places anywhere, with some great people. I leaned on Daniel and Randy a lot that day, and some moments I just went with my gut. The point was that I had a great time, I learned much, and I knew I’d be back.
I still have much to learn. I still have mistakes to make. And I still have many, many failures ahead. But for all those mistakes and failures, there’s bound to be a victory in there somewhere. Whether it’s a first buck, a large doe, or a strutting Tom, I’ll enjoy it all the more alongside these guys. Thanks to Randy, Adam, Daniel, Kevin and Levi for calling me a team member, though I’m content calling you friends.