Tomorrow

I've learned to hate that word, tomorrow. It's never really sat well with me, not when I was a kid and not now. "Don't worry sweetie, we'll go tomorrow." I'd hear and wonder to myself why tomorrow was a better option than today.

It's become a lame excuse; a way to put off what should be done today in hopes that it will be easier the next day. It's almost as bad as "someday", only this lie inflicts more damage.

At least with "someday" you never really believe that you're going to accomplish what follows that word, nor does anyone else you're proclaiming this statement to. It's a harmless, far off dream that you never really intend to chase anyway.

"Tomorrow" on the other hand is the true killer. It allows us to believe just enough that we are really going to obtain that goal, that we really are as committed as we wish we were. That tomorrow we will take the necessary steps to wrestle that dream to the ground and make it ours.

The lie needs to stop if we want to take what is ours. There is no tomorrow, but there is a today.

Post Season Post Mortem

As my season comes to an end, I look back at the good and bad of what went down. What I was happy with and what I vow to change. It's the perfect time to reflect, as the pain of defeat still festers like an open wound, burning enough to make us want to avoid its repetition. Looking back allows us to systematically go over what led us to failure and take steps to avoid letting it happen again the next year. Sure there are instances that we have no control over, some would call it bad luck. But those are few and far between and if we're honest with ourselves, we more than likely had some control over those situations.

So what was it that kept you from success?

I'll review some of mine with you and hopefully we can look into some of yours as well. Write down what prevented you from success and come up with clear and concise ways to solve the problem. Don't wait for tomorrow to do it. Fire up your word processor, get out a piece of paper or scribe it into your forearm, I don't care how you do it, just do it!

Work

This one, well this one gets in the way for most of us. I missed my most coveted hunt this year because the "need" to work. What actually caused it was the lack of planning. I allowed myself to get caught up in work because I didn't plan far enough ahead to get the required work done in order to free my time up for this hunt.

How will I resolve this?

Once I have the dates of the hunt in the calendar, it's set in stone. Just like a meeting with a client would be treated. This is time that I make with myself to pursue what makes me happy. Don't put off  what you love on the back burner because of lack of planning. Treat yourself as your most important client and don't accept "no" for an answer.

Fred at Work
Fred at Work

Preparing for War

Not being prepared equates to excuses in the field. We as humans have the ability to come up with an excuse for just about anything.

"It was too cold out there, the animals were hunkered down and out of sight."

"I missed the shot because the moon was in my eyes."

The list goes on. The funny thing about these excuses is at the time, they seem legitimate. When we have a chance to look back we realize that we actually created them in order to get us out of an uncomfortable or painful situation.

There are three things that make it onto my list of being prepared for long backcountry hunts.

Physical Training

I know, this is all the rage these days. There's a good reason it's popular, it freakin' works. Feeling physically powerful when I'm deep in the woods affects more than just what I can carry in and carry out. It makes me feel like I'm the king of the domain, that I'm quieter, faster and more in tuned to my surroundings. It has a profound mental effect on how we see ourselves at the head of food chain, not just some tourist asking permission to spend a few days in the animals' kingdom. Don't underestimate the underlying effects of physical strength.

How do I prepare for this?

I treat hunting the same way I treat any other competition I involve myself in. I train like I'm going to the Olympics for bow hunting or upland game hunting in the backcountry. I find competitions such as Train to Hunt and sign up for them. I don't allow myself the excuse of not attending these events because of a lack of preparation. I go to the event regardless of how much I trained, not allowing excuses to keep me from the embarrassing failure that is sure to follow if I don't prepare myself properly.

I also sign up for bike and adventure races. We as hunters are naturally competitive, let that push you to the next level.

 Leadville 100

Leadville 100

Mental Training

Training should include more than just the physical aspect. Breaking down mentally has sent many a hunter home empty handed.  What about the ability to handle the loneliness of the backcountry? A day can feel like a week when you're out there by yourself, especially if you don't know how to handle all that time alone. The mind wanders into odd, sometimes all to revealing arenas when it doesn't have the stimulation from our day to day interactions.

This is probably what causes most people to quit. Something will always come up on why you should walk out, there will be no lack of excuses, I can assure you that.

How do I prepare for this?

Get out there and see what your mind does when you're by yourself. I started out with just going a night by myself, as to not freak myself out. I take a notepad with me and write down whatever excuses that start to come up on why I should leave. This may not happen the first time you're out there, but keep this pad with you as you start to lengthen your stay in the backcountry.

Once you have a list, you can start to analyze it from the comfort of your home. What comes up out there?

Example: I noticed a pattern about myself when I would get lonely. If I didn't see any game moving about in a relatively short amount of time, I would convince myself that they weren't there and that I should just pack up my gear and head out. After all it was futile to be out there hunting if there weren't any animals to hunt.

The thing is, I knew there was game out there. I allowed myself the cop out of walking out because I was uncomfortable being alone in an unfamiliar area, not because there wasn't any game. It was just a convenient coincidence that I didn't see any game at that immediate time. A convenient excuse. By being able to analyze it later, I was able to see my weakness and not allow myself to succumb to it again. Find your weaknesses then make them your strengths.

Gear

This is a fun one. I'm a total gear head and love trying to find the perfect combination of equipment to become as efficient as I can in the backcountry. There certainly isn't a lack of it these days. There are several hunting companies that built their brand around making strong, lightweight equipment that would make any alpinist jealous. Because of these options, we also have an unlimited number of excuses as to why we can't hack it, blaming equipment failure instead of our own. Know that your gear functions properly ahead of time and you can scratch it out of the excuse equation.

How do I prepare for this?

We have plenty of time to scout and camp with friends and loved ones during the spring and summer to test our gear. Use this time to hone your system in. Again I carry that same little notebook I talked about earlier to help me perfect my gear choices. I write everything down that I am using on that camping or scouting trip. I check off what I end up using and make notes of what I only use occasionally. Anything that doesn't get used at the end of the trip has to have a damn good justification on why it will be with me the next time (ie. just because you don't use your first aid kit, doesn't mean you shouldn't bring it the next time out, use common sense here). I even refine my list on hunts. The key thing is make sure that everything you're taking with you has justification for being out there with you. Look for ways of doubling up on uses.

Example: If you're taking Mountain Houses with you, don't take bags to use for your garbage. An empty Mountain House works terrific as a garbage bag. The top seals back up preventing all of its now nasty contents to stay securely within.

Black Diamond Bivy
Black Diamond Bivy

That's the start of it. Get a plan laid out and do it NOW, not tomorrow. Tomorrow is for suckers.

What's your excuse? Hit me up in the comments below and let's get a conversation going.

//Fred