Stoking the fire

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2010
Cedar, MI
Over the last 5-10 years, my joy in hunting big game has been largely non-existent. I've had a few fun hunts, but I wasn't really into it. I got a bird dog, and that consumed a lot of time along with running a small business, family health, etc. I've just kind of lost the joy of big game hunting. I feel myself getting softer on killing things, and root for squirrels, possums and skunks, etc. Roosevelt once said something to the effect that the hunter tends to put down the rifle and pick up the camera as they mature - that the killing just becomes too much. I've heard the same sentiment from one of the hardest SOB's god ever made. I think there's some truth to that. but I also think that each person's hunting is an adventure on it's own - that everyone has to come to the place where you recognize that killing things is part of you are, and that's ok - even if you have a soft side that roots for the underdog, or for the coyote to outrun the pursuer.

I've been doing a lot of exploration of new chunks of isolated state land close to me. It's been an interesting few months (Not much snow here in the northern lower), and ticks are out, so make sure your clothes are sprayed & the dogs are covered. What I've found, along with new covers that I likely wouldn't have even guessed exist - is a new joy in the scouting of game. I've got a 2nd week tag for turkeys and while there are a gang of about 5-6 Toms that use our property it kinda feels like cheating, so...

In the last two months we've been finding tons of grouse, lots of new deer hunting spots with minimal human presence detected and we were impolitely escorted off a piece of state land by a very unhappy and protective coyote. There's a joy of being outdoors looking for wildlife that hasn't been there (except for upland) for quite a while. The exploration, pouring over maps & data points, comparing forest overlays, even placing cameras on some public land. I've been fortunate enough to get selected for an enhanced hunter ed school in early May, which I'm eager to do and learn to shoot better, and most importantly - to be a better hunter overall.

Maybe it's being in closer proximity to accessible lands (rural versus urban) but the fire feels like it's back. Maybe it's changing perspectives or removing myself from situations where hunting felt more like gate-keeping, or like there was an air of exclusivity around it - the elite hunter model that seems to have infiltrated all things hunting related. Maybe it's just finally letting go of all that shit and enjoying myself in the moment, not caring what anyone else thought of how I did what I was doing, or why I was doing something.

Maybe it's living in the moment, and not getting wrapped around the axle of every triggering thing I see and maybe it's being in proximity to the impending death of a loved one yet again that helps keep my eyes open to all that is still amazing, beautiful, wild and accecssible.

I don't know. I just know that the off season here is getting $*)Q!#@$ ugly, and we should get some focus back on what makes us all part of the hunting community beyond cartridge size and broadhead weight.



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Dickies Bibs before Jodphurs?
I have an old photo somewhere of me wearing tweeds and smoking a pipe. I was hunting for a different kind of bird at the time.
If wishes were dishes....

That being said, I don't want to derail this fine sesquipedialian tergiversation.
I have long thought that scouting for hunting is more enjoyable than the hunting itself. Particularly when everything is coming back to life in the spring.

It could be childish at base, but leveraging my prideful indifference to the opinions of others has also been a weight lifted in recent years. What do I like? What does my dog like? What do my kids like? I mean actually, if no one is watching, and even if they were, do they matter?

Life's too short. Enjoy the warmth of the flames.
Interesting take Ben. I have found the allure of turkey hunting in the past few years. There is something about the scouting, the spring woods, the getting out of bed at crazy hours, the very act of enjoying nature. Something unique about watching deer for the sake of watching deer with no aspect to a quest for antlers (because they are all bald this time of year). I am lucky that I have my boys who provide more than enough zest for the hunt. Kids invigorate a person.

You know one thing I took from you post? Nature heals a lot of things. In this crazy world we live in, I think a lot of people suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder.
Great post @Ben Lamb.

I like going hunting to forget about all the fighting I'm involved in about hunting. It is certainly exhausting and never ends. But once I'm there and can breathe, it gives me the energy to step back in the ring. Excited turkey is starting here soon.
We don't own a stitch of our deer lease and could be kicked out for the owner's convenience with a phone call, but seeing the pastures lush up, the streams run into the tanks, the bass rise, deer and birds spook this spring is renewing and faith affirming. that I think of what Ben is saying and showing, so much better than what I can type on screen.
Gotta agree, spring scouting is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have in the woods. And you couldn't pick a much better place to gather your thoughts. My time spent in the late winter/early spring (it's all the same) in the upper peninsula were truly formative to how I perceive the world around me, hunting or otherwise. Wouldn't trade it for anything, and I miss those times dearly. Just not the same down here. Makes me wonder what has changed at all the spots I used to frequent. Are the grouse drumming yet? Are the deer concentrated around the early spring grasses yet? Are the walleye waiting around for temps to go up right below that riffle before their final push? Have the pike pushed their way up every weedy ditch with some flow they can find? Are the wolves still cruising the shoreline on a northwest wind, checking beds? How much changes on a year with low snowpack and warm temperatures? Who knows. I can guess, but I can't tell from down here.

I'm not in the same boat on killing yet, but I'm sure it will happen over time. Every year is different it seems. All I know is that right now is the best time to get that fire back.
I'm with @Ben Lamb, but for my part, turkeys are kind of boring for me. I don't get into the process of it all. I am perfectly content to hide in the hay barn and ambush a strutter.

I'm forcing myself to go hunt a part of the state I haven't hunted ever, or for a long time. I am getting "stoked" about this. Scouting and prep will get me into the backcountry even if I don't get my plan A tag.

Change, even small charge, can break the droll.
To keep things interesting, I circulate obsessions throughout the year. It all still mainly revolves around hunting and fishing, but different seasons, different species, different areas, it always keeps me busy and interested.

I haven't turkey hunted the past few years, so this year I'm going to get back after them. Something about chasing gobblers is just really exciting. Usually, I struggle with deciding between 2 hobbies. Whether it be fishing or hunting. I have access to 1000's of acres of private land, but I still go out and chase some public land whitetails or turkeys just for the change of pace.

I also don't typically post pics to any social media. I typically keep my adventures to myself as of the past few years. There's no need to try and impress anyone but yourself!
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