© Othmar Vohringer
Everyday life is hectic, the day only has so many hours and there is so much to do. Our minds are constantly racing. It starts in the morning, there is no time to sit down and drink coffee. Our mind is already fighting the morning rush hour traffic so we take the coffee and drink it on the way to work. And so the race goes on and all day long we try to catch up.
That mentality carries over to hunting too. It seems we never have enough time to hunt. We’re always in a rush. I first realized that years ago when I went to my favorite hunting area. On the way to my stand I was in such a rush to get it done that I jumped several deer that, had I taken my time, I could have avoided. Arriving at my stand I realized that I had forgotten the arrows back at my truck. What should have been a relaxing day turned sour before it even began.
Right there and then I decided that this couldn’t go on. I needed to change. Slow down. The next time I got up an hour earlier than usual and forced myself to actually sit down to drink the coffee. Arriving at the hunting site one and a half hours before legal shooting light I got dressed in camouflage got the gear together and then walked to the edge of the woodlot. There I sat down at the base of a tree and did nothing but simply sit still.
It didn’t take long to completely relax and then something happened that I never had experienced before. For the first time I could hear the faintest sounds of insects buzzing around in the dark, leaves falling on the ground and animal sounds from far away. I also could smell the fresh dirt under my feet and my eyes could see things they haven’t before and the pre dawn didn’t seem so dark after all.
Time didn’t matter anymore and I actually began to enjoy my little rest under the tree at the woodland edge. That half hour of relaxing did more for me than eight hours of sleep. I got up felling totally refreshed. It was the first time that I didn’t need a flashlight to find the way to my treestand at the far end of the woodlot where an overgrown fence line created the perfect travel path for the deer leaving the cornfield in the morning.
Walking through the woods I became very aware of everything that went on around me. A couple of times I felt like an inner voice was trying to tell me to stop and sure enough, at one such instance a doe walked across a moonlit opening and at a second instance it was a raccoon running across the forest path. Never before did I feel so in tune with nature and what went on all around me.
From that day on I made it a habit to rest at least a half hour after I left the truck, either I would lean against a tree or simply sit on the ground before I moved to my stand location. Over the years this relaxed attitude has carried over to my personal life too. No longer do I get upset in traffic and I always get up early enough in the morning to have time to sit down to drink the coffee. At work I don’t lose my temper each time something goes wrong or somebody is being an idiot.
Because of this I have become a more mellow person and this in turn has improved my overall happiness too. I have learned to enjoy the little things in life that I would never have seen before. Not so very long ago I read an interesting study where it was said that stressed people get into more accidents than relaxed and calm people. The reason, so the study said, is that stress leads to tunnel vision. A person under stress or frustration can become oblivious to their surrounding. With that chances of an accident rise sharply.
Looking at it from that perspective a relaxed hunter is less likely to mistake another hunter or hiker for a game animal or be involved in other hunting related accidents like falls from treetands, accidental discharge of a firearm or walking up on another hunter and risking being shot at. A relaxed hunter’s brain is free from pressure and thus his mind opens up and can become one with nature. In other words, if we leave the hectic of the modern world behind us and forget it for a while we return to our true nature: we become hunters again. Next time you go to the woods slow down and leave the stress of everyday life behind you.