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:
- 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.
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.
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.