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October 27, 2013

MARTINO: Bow hunters must balance success with failure

Bowhunters must balance success with failure.

“I started bowh-unting four years ago, but have only taken one doe,” a friend mentioned with an air of discour-agement, while a group of us discussed this year’s archery deer season.

“Do you enjoy it?” I asked.

“I sure do,” he responded, “but one of these years, I’m hoping to take a good buck.”

What this bowhunter may not have realized, in reality, he already has had good luck. First off, taking any big-game animal with bow is a notable outdoor accomplishment, regardless of what it may weigh or the number of points that sprout from his head. In today’s world, the great tradition of hunting is about the entire ride — not the final destination. We should not let the outcome of an entire season hinge on a few precious seconds. As modern sportsmen, we should not lose sight of the real reason for which we are out there.

Hunting with archery equipment is supposed to be harder. It tests our ability and commitment to sit motionless for long periods of time or stalk stealthily and silent. By its very nature, bowhunting allows the hunter to step back in time, relying more on skill. It’s also a type of hunting that captures our greatest emotions.

Acceptances of the difficulty (and the failures that go along with it) indicate the growing maturity of a hunter. After all, on nature’s scoreboard, even top-level predators like coyotes, birds of prey and even mountain lions only succeed on a limited basis.

Ann Causey, a respected professor of philosophy at Auburn University has written extensively on why we hunt. She has pointed out that hunting success has been defined through tens of thousands of years of our existence. Our earliest ancestors fed and clothed their families through their hunting skills, and the amount and size of game taken were the standards for measuring one’s prowess. Historically, there was no concept of sportsmanship or bag limits. Anything went. You either made a kill or starved to death.

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