The parallels between running and hunting

I’ve taken up a new adventure: deer hunting.

Outside of my family, people in my circles tend not to be hunters, so it might be a surprise for some readers.

Nearly every single male and some of the females in my family hunt, so hunting is a tradition I’ve been close to all my life. When I wasn’t eating meat (except fish) for five years, I decided I’d hunt if I started eating meat again. And so now I have.

Throughout the past year, I’ve gotten outfitted for the November gun season in Michigan. I spent the week of Thanksgiving in a deer blind, and I found a few useful parallels between hunting and running:

  1. You’ve really got to be able to be bored.

Sitting in a deer blind for some six hours a day means you’re going to be a bit bored. The deer weren’t moving too well by the second week of gun season, so I didn’t see much. I took out my phone and my iPod. While I did listen to Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen’s death bed albums a little, I tried to stay away from technology. Like anything, it was tougher at first. By the final few hunts, I didn’t touch my phone or iPod and enjoyed the meditative time in the woods.

Any runner will know it can be a similar story while putting in the miles. We run the same routes and have to keep ourselves entertained. I don’t run with music or podcasts to give my mind a break from technology. A lot of the time, running is a fairly boring enterprise. It’s always worth it, of course, and I think the dullness of it is good for me. Being in the deer blind was good practice.

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2. You’ve got to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

That’s one of the best gifts any running can give her or himself. Deer hunting is no different. I sat for hours each day in the cold and on an upright wooden chair. My gear was good, but the third hour of sitting in 30-degree weather certainly puts it and myself to the test. That’s something I always welcome. The more I can work through discomfort, the better I’ll handle every aspect of life.

3. We put up with the above for a few good moments or a perfect day every now and then.

The evening before Thanksgiving, I had a wonderful time. Eight deer came into the area. I watched twin fawns play groom themselves and each other, and watched a big doe chase away a buck several times. While I can’t say I was happy with the doe, it was pretty funny because usually it’s the bucks chasing the does away. That evening it snowed, and I walked in without a headlamp because it was so bright in the woods. The time seemed to pass quickly that night, and I certainly didn’t want it to end so soon.

Another morning, I didn’t see a single deer, but I saw a coyote hunting the same bait pile I was. It’s always cool to see a coyote in the wild.

Throughout the week, I saw nature close up. I heard owls and saw hawks. When I’m in need of a rest, nature is the best prescription.

These twin fawns were so cute.
These twin fawns were so cute.

I didn’t get anything in the end, but I enjoyed myself. It’s exciting to take up two new things in 2016, adding a little something good to an otherwise dreadful year.

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