“I’ve been bow hunting for five years now, but have never taken anything,” a friend said sheepishly as a group of us sat around a crackling campfire talking.

“Do you enjoy it?” I asked. “I sure do,” he quickly responded, “but one of these days I’m hoping my luck will change.”

What this bow hunter may not realize is that in reality, he has seen success. In today’s world, the great tradition of hunting is about the entire ride — not the destination. I agree the outcome of a whole season can hinge on a few precious seconds but as modern sportsmen we should not lose sight of the real reason we are out there.

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

Acceptance 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 birds of prey, wolves and mountain lions succeed on a limited basis.

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

For the most part, this remained a valid measure of success (or failure) until the last century. In today’s world, virtually no one hunts solely for survival. Never the less, in some remote way, the old concept of success as a measure of a hunter’s worth still remains.

Maybe in some ways, this attitude is a reflection of our highly competitive society in which the final outcome is the yardstick to which everything is measured.

More than ever before, change is on the wind. Bowhunting success has come to mean much more than taking an animal. The underlying attraction to hunting with archery equipment is that it places the hunter and game on more equal footing. We want to be challenged, and then when success does come, it is much sweeter.

We no longer have to hunt to satisfy a growling belly, so new motivations and standards provide the drive to bow hunt. Like the famous phrase, “It’s not whether we win or lose, but how we play the game.”

Today, many hunters venture into the woods for the total outdoor experience. Learning about the game we seek, enjoying beautiful surroundings and a communion around a crackling campfire with family and friends is what’s important. These connections are what link us to our hunting roots which are the most important now that our lives are so far removed from the natural world. After all, why would we even want to hunt if we didn’t enjoy everything that went along with it? As long as a hunting trip is uplifting, we have not failed.

But, the occasional taking of game is important also. A bow hunter works hard to become successful. Without harvesting game, at least occasionally, we lose intensity and direction unique to hunting with archery equipment. A connection to our past can be consecrated in no other way than by seeking and ultimately taking of game — if only once in a while.

There’s no denying that our competitive juices kept man fed for many years and is why we exist today. Those same urges are still a small part of why we hunt. But success is much sweeter once we realize that failure, by its old definition, is fine too!

Tournament results

Carlos Padilla, fishing solo, swept last week’s Kokomo Reservoir Monday morning open team bass tourney. Padilla won the event with four largemouth bass totaling 7 pounds, 5 ounces. He also took home the weekly event’s “big fish” honor with a 2-pound, 8-ounce fish.

Hunting results

Here is this week’s list of bowhunters who have collected deer and taken them to one of our areas state approved check-in stations, as required by law. This information includes field-dressed weights along with county of harvest. This list is provided through the help of Burlington Locker, Bryant’s Outdoor Store, Full-Draw Archery, Jack’s Tackle and Simpson’s Deer Processing.

Carroll County: Randall Sizemore, 219-pound, nine-point buck.

Cass County: Nick Rayl, 100-pound doe; Jeff Packard, 150-pound, nine-point buck; Richard Jones, 140-pound, seven-point buck.

Clinton County: Dennis Freidline, 100-pound doe.

Fulton County: Steve Nunnally, 80-pound doe; Ed Glassburn, 110-pound doe.

Howard County: Jack Sutton, 110-pound doe; Alvin Hochgesang, 140-pound, eight-point buck; Todd Kirkman, 120-pound doe; James Dean, 115-pound doe; Andrew Jarvis, 120-pound doe.

Jefferson County: Don Brown, 143-pound, eight-point buck.

Miami County: Dan Stout, 75-pound button-buck; Ernest Young, 145-pound, 11-point buck; Jeff Mulkey, 120-pound doe.

Switzerland County: Richard Hudson, 70-pound doe.

Tipton County: Gary Ogden, 135-pound doe.

Wabash County: Mike Cade, 100-pound doe; Gary Miller, 150-pound, six-point buck.

John Martino is the Tribune’s

outdoors columnist. He may be reached through the Tribune sports department at (765) 454-8574.

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