I am embarrassingly behind.
There are a lot of good reasons for this, but no excuses. I’ve been dreaming of hunting the Rockies damn near my entire life, long before I ever sat in a tree stand in Indiana and now, my first year I get to do it, I am way behind. Sure, we’ve not even lived in Colorado for a year, there’s lots of growing pains there, I was out of work for about seven months which limited my income and took a heavy toll on my mental state. Lots of good reasons, but none of them are going to matter come November when I’m huffing and puffing up and down the mountain.
I can’t do much about the fact I can’t afford a truck at the moment, so I have to depend on the kindness of a friend who is hunting the same units. I can’t do much about spending more time at the range and shooting through ammo I can’t afford at gun clubs I can’t afford. My family responsibilities have kept me from scouting as much as I’d like, not much I can do about that. However, there’s no excuse for not being in hunting shape. I have over two more months to get better, but it won’t be enough.
I know this first year chasing elk and black bear is going to be a learning experience. I’m not expecting to go out and get a Boone & Crockett bull, I really just want to be out there hunting and bring home some meat. I have listened to endless podcasts, read articles and books and I feel like I have a lot of intellectual knowledge about these mountains and about these animals, but I have no experiential knowledge. Am I going to be able to turn all that data about thermals and behavior into instinct right away? Probably not. Am I going to be able to stalk up on a big bull real close without spooking him? I highly doubt it.
I’m looking forward to screwing up. Well, so long as I bring home meat I’ll appreciate the screw ups. I don’t care if I come home with a raghorn bull or young cow, meat is meat and elk is good. However, I know all those screw ups will not be in vain, I will learn from them and next year I’ll be a better hunter (and in better shape) and I’ll be even better the year after that. Hunting for me is about the journey as much as it’s about the food on the plate.
So, having said all that, what am I going to do? In the immortal words of the Gorilla Biscuits, I’m going to “start today”. Well, I actually started a few days ago, but once you realized you’ve screwed up, all you can do is change course in the present. You can’t fix yesterday, all you can do is learn from it so that you make better decisions today and tomorrow.