“The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” George Washington Burnap gets credit for the quote, but I am here to help with the last part. We need all three to ensure happiness, but what really keeps me going is something to hope for, something to look forward to. What is more exciting than looking forward to something you have planned? For me, planning a hunting trip in a new or distant location is almost as exciting as the trip itself. Almost. Hunting trips provide a great opportunity to learn new hunting strategies, enjoy our nation’s public lands, experience camaraderie with friends and family, and feed the soul with happiness.
Whitetails certainly give me “something to do,” whether it be habitat improvement, practice at the range, or dreaming about the one that got away. They also give me “something to love” and respect, no question about that. I look forward to improving habitat, “hope for” cool pictures of mature bucks when checking trail cameras, and of course I “hope for” success in the fall and winter months. It’s safe to say for myself, the whitetail checks all three boxes when it comes to the essentials of happiness.
I came back from this trip refreshed with new ideas and strategies. I also realized after hunting aggressively in unfamiliar terrain that I had become too comfortable with some of my whitetail treestand locations.
But of the three essentials to happiness, “something to hope for” is the one that makes it easy for me to jump out of bed and start the day. I am beyond excited for this fall’s out-of-state mule deer bowhunt. I look forward to it daily. I took this same trip last fall to state and federal lands in South Dakota and came back with a new focus on pursing whitetails. A lot can be learned from getting out of your comfort zone and hunting different species and new territory. The style of hunting on this western trip was completely different than I was accustomed to from hunting midwestern whitetails. I was forced to adapt to different terrains, learn the ever-changing wind and thermals, and I found that a good pair of boots and binoculars are your best friends.
I came back from this trip refreshed with new ideas and strategies. I also realized after hunting aggressively in unfamiliar terrain that I had become too comfortable with some of my whitetail treestand locations. When I returned home, I got away from hunting the same old spots and instead packed in my hang-on stand and climbing sticks more frequently. There were times on my western trip that I had to get creative to reach certain locations. This gave me a new perspective on how I’d been accessing my whitetail stands in the past. Some routes were already good while others needed some creativity. Hunting trips like this always provide good opportunities for you to improve on what you are comfortable with or accustomed to.
Did you know there are literally millions of acres of wonderful public land that you have access to, and you are a co-owner of it? What better reason to take advantage of this access than to plan a hunting trip and give yourself something to look forward to? As part of QDMA’s new 5-year mission goals, we are working to strengthen partnerships with state and federal agencies to enhance deer herds and habitat on public hunting lands. This will be made possible through the network of QDMA Branches.
When you are planning an out-of-state trip, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. It is always a good idea to thoroughly review the regulations, as different states vary. With chronic wasting disease (CWD) being a hot issue, some states have put regulations in place to limit the spread of the infectious disease. Make yourself aware of existing disease management zones, if any, in the state you plan to hunt, and learn the rules for testing and transportation of any deer you harvest in those zones.
I truly hope you are able to check all three boxes that are essential to happiness, whether through family and friends, the outdoors, or – like me – hunting whitetails. Continue to educate yourself on the outdoors and hunting, take advantage of the millions of acres of public land access, and most importantly have fun with your family and friends. I hope for you that there is an adventurous hunting trip in your near future!