There is no “I” in Team
Finding a good hunting partner can sometimes be just as difficult, if not more difficult than hunting itself. A lot of things have to lineup between two people in order for it to work. This became all too apparent when I really got into all of this. Up until a certain point, I had always hunted with another person. As the fire grew inside of me to be out in the field though, I came to a fork in the road. Either I was going to not go out at all or I needed to go out alone. I chose the latter and throughout my adventures have really grown to love hunting on my own. Even with that being the case, I still enjoy getting out into the mountains with good friends and family. After all, that is how I ended up loving hunting as much as I do in the first place.
This is a big one and something that inevitably ended up with me being in the field by myself more often than not. I had friends that liked hunting, but not as much as I did. If one of you is filled with a ton of drive and the other isn’t, that can be a problem. Being out in the mountains is hard work and can mentally cripple people quite easily if they don’t possess the will to do what it takes to get the job done. Both people need to be equally driven in their pursuits in order to keep one another afloat. I’ve heard the frustrations of other hunters talking about how their partner wasn’t willing to climb that mountain to go after an elk, or how they haven’t seen any animals and want to go home. Meanwhile the other hunter is sitting there willing to do anything in order to fill his tag. Unfortunately, it can turn out to be a bad recipe for both parties involved.
Having strong teamwork plays a huge role between hunting partners. Something that comes to mind right away is archery elk season and calling. The best chance of success during this time is a 2 person set up. One person calls and the other is the shooter. This means that the caller might have to hang is bow up for the day though, in order to call for his partner. If the shooter isn’t successful one day, then maybe you switch roles the next. Whatever you work out between each other, make sure you are both giving one another a fair chance during, not just an elk hunt, but any hunt. Chances are, you both worked pretty hard to get to where you’re at in the hunt, hence you both deserve equal opportunity out there.
Another thing that I think of immediately is tracking a wounded animal and then hopefully packing that animal out and back to the truck. For instance, if I am sharing a camp with a friend and he is fortunate enough to shoot an animal, my hunt stops and I am helping him track that animal, whether it takes 5 minutes or 5 hours. 2 sets of eyes are way better than one as well as 2 backpacks full of meat is better than one. The two of you will get that meat back to camp and cooled way faster than one of you will. The fact of the matter is, that animal’s life being taken and the meat being utilized is way more important than me going off on my own to selfishly try and fill my tag, while my partner is left to handle business by themselves. I couldn’t dream of doing that to a friend or family member. Work together.
I said earlier that the mountains can quite easily mentally cripple people. Maybe, the terrain is extremely unforgiving? Maybe, there is a lack of animals in the area you are hunting? Your hunting partner shoots an animal and loses it. These are very real things out in the field and it is our responsibility to hold one another up when times get tough out there. Last year, I shot and wounded a bear. I looked for 14 hours and returned a week later to try and find birds on my bear. The bruin was never found and we ultimately came to the conclusion that he didn’t die. Until that point, I was ready to notch my tag and not hunt bears the rest of the year. Talking with my hunting partner about this really helped me out and inspired me to get back on the horse for the next season. My first day out the next season, I ended up shooting a black bear that came in at over 400 pounds. Had it not been for my friends lifting me back up, I might not have experienced that magical day.
Good hunting partners come far and few, so when you happen across one, be grateful and enjoy your time afield with them. Act as a unit while out there and work together. Lift each other up when one of you is down and inspire them how you would want to be inspired. The time that you will spend together in the mountains shouldn’t be taken for granted and the memories you make will carry on for a lifetime. I don’t have a ton of hunting partners, but the ones I do have, I hold close. I suggest you do the same. You can’t just head to the local pro shop and pick up a new one, should things go south, like you would a piece of gear.