My wife LOVES jigsaw puzzles. Oftentimes my whole coffee table is nothing but puzzle pieces for weeks at a time. Every time that she opens a new box and dumps out thousands of tiny pieces, I can’t help but admire her tenacity. Of course she doesn’t look at them as a whole, she looks at them in sections and breaks them down like that. Usually, she finds all of the end bits and organizes them. From there, she will proceed to actually connect them. After going through this arduous process, while all the while maintaining an intimidating level of patience, she finds success. What happens when she is finished? The puzzle gets broken back down into thousands of pieces and put back in it’s box. Done and done. Onto the next puzzle.
My love of bowhunting is incredibly similar to my wife’s love of jigsaw puzzles. You wouldn’t ever find her buying a puzzle that is already put together. Someone else did all of the work and there is no feeling of accomplishment, leaving her absent of the reward she seeks. For her, the fun is in the process and the reward is knowing that she did it on her own. This is exactly how I find myself feeling about hunting. It is the process that makes me tick. Harvesting an animal is a byproduct of the hard work put in beforehand. The hard work in which I gain so much from. The same goes for that tasty meat. If it wasn’t for the adventure and mystique of filling these tags, I probably wouldn’t do it. The act of killing is not why I started hunting. It was the whole package that brought me to where I am.
In the Beginning
When one starts on the task of putting together a puzzle, I believe that to be the most difficult time. The same can be said for hunting. Where do you begin? There are so many places to go and so much country to see. It is both an exciting and sometimes daunting feeling to start a new. Tiny little gems are packed away into the mountains and it is up to you to find them. Go through the process and don’t expect to find success overnight. Find your way of breaking areas down into sections. Don’t look at a hunt or country as a whole, look at it in bits and branch out from there. Find the water. Where is the feed? Are there likely bedding areas nearby? Put in the ground work and find those puzzle pieces. From there, it is just about connecting the dots.
Just like my wife pouring puzzle pieces all over our coffee table, there is an equal amount of time where that table is covered in topographic maps. My “puzzle pieces” if you would. I will stare at these for hours waiting for that specific drainage to pop out or that water source that just eluded me the whole time. Hours just to get an up on a potential new area. The spot might be void of game for all I know. The only way to find out though, is to go look at it myself. This is part of my process. Sometimes I get info on spots from fellow hunters, but I almost feel guilty going to checking them out. For two reasons. One, that person did all of the work finding that. Two, I feel like I am robbing myself of that “AH HA” moment I am craving by putting the puzzle together on my own. Once I do, I pack up my backpack, grab a new map, and move onto the next jigsaw puzzle.