For those of you who didn't know I wrote a book or what the book is even about, I wanted to share the introduction with you and see if it captures enough of your attention to make you want to read more. I sure hope it does. I want to share the knowledge I've obtained through 30 years of hunting. I've made plenty of mistakes, BUT I've learned from them and want to share with you so you do NOT make the same mistakes I did. I have also learned plenty of tricks and developed concepts few think of while going afield. Read this introduction and hopefully you'll grab a copy of my book ("The LITTLE THINGS...Successful Deer Hunting Made Easy.") available on amazon.com and here on my "SHOP" page. Thanks so much...... When I copied the intro over into this format it got really messed up. I think I fixed everything. Let me know. Here's the introduction.
Every journey in life has a history—a past, a trail of events which shapes the future. For myself, this journey started thirty years ago when I was five years old.
Each evening, I eagerly awaited the return of my Dad from his daily hunting and trapping routine. I would ask, “Did you get anything?” ... “Did you see anything?” ... “How big was the buck, Dad?” ... “Where’s it at?”
Dad got so tired of hearing these questions over and over and over again. I was mesmerized though, intrigued, and obsessed with Dad’s outdoor activities. It was then, those moments I yearned to become an outdoorsman, a hunter just like my Dad.
At age five, I knew nothing about EVERYTHING, but even so I wanted to learn, to understand. Dad took me along as he ran his daily trap lines and by age seven or eight he took me out squirrel hunting. I was taught the do’s and don’ts of handling and shooting firearms as well as the fine art of chasing those bushy tail squirrels. The squirrels, however, were safe for the longest time.
You see, I could shoot my .410 shotgun very well. I could shoot and hit the pop can laying on the ground in the backyard every time, but hitting a squirrel in the top of a tree...not so good! Dad taught me how to fix that problem, he taught me how aim better...to shoot better, he taught me more than he will ever realize!
By age eight or nine, Dad finally decided to buy me a bow. It was a Bear recurve. I was thrilled! Again, I was lost though. I couldn’t hit anything. I was lucky to hit the ground between my feet let alone an arrow target placed at a mere ten yards. But, Dad taught me how to fix that problem. He taught me how to hold the bow and how to look through the string at the sight pin. Again I was mesmerized! I wanted to know more. It was then, in those moments that I learned to absorb knowledge and wisdom from others around me when faced with things, circumstances and situations I knew nothing about. That feeling grew inside my brain, my body and my heart and bred a passion for the outdoors, it bred a passion for hunting.
Then, as so many good stories end, mine too hit a bump in the road. For years, Dad worked as a logger, a timber cutter, a man of brutal physical labor. He worked his butt off to provide a roof overhead and food on the table for myself, for my three brothers, and for my Mom. Dad did well for himself, but he wanted to do better. He applied for a job with a local coal-fired power plant. Dad was hired on full-time, he was blessed! This well paying, stable job with benefits had its consequences though, which were working shift-work and spending less time at home with his family.
Being the child I was, I was torn apart inside. I couldn’t understand the value of a good job and how it would later provide me, my brothers, and my Mom with a better future. All I knew was that Dad couldn’t hunt like he used to, not every day. Now, a handful of days afield each month was the best he could do and Dad certainly had less time to teach me The Little Things about the outdoors, about hunting, about shooting...about many things! What would happen now? “Duh Gary...Mom hunts too” was all I could think inside my little head. Yes, my Mother is an outdoors woman too. She hunted and worked in the timber with Dad. For the most part, Mom did everything Dad did and of course she didn’t mind filling in while he was away at work. I spent many days hunting with Mom and those days were etched into my heart and mind as some of the most precious moments a mother and son could spend together. The problem was that Mom had a full-time job as well. It was called “being Mom.” With us four wild boys to attend to, food to cook, dishes to do, clothes to wash, and on and on, Mom didn’t have enough time to hunt like I wanted to. Dad hunted with me when his work schedule permitted, but none of this was good enough for me. I wanted more; I wanted so much more!
So what did I do? I did what any child does when he or she wants something...I BEGGED. I begged and begged and begged to go hunting all the time. That’s where the turning point came. Dad was working what many called “21-Swing.” He would work seven straight days a week on a dayshift pattern, get a day off, then work seven straight afternoons, get a day or so off, then work seven straight midnights. Many days, Dad just couldn’t be around because of work. Finally, one day when Dad was at work and Mom was terribly busy I asked Mom to go squirrel hunting for the millionth time, just like I always had.
“Mom can we go hunting?”
She replied “GO!”
I stood motionless; I knew she was upset.
“GO...JUST GO” Mom barked! Again, I stood there motionless.
“I can’t take you hunting; I have too many things to do...GO!”
I started to say... “But, Mom I...” when she turned to me with a dish rag in one hand a frying pan in the other and said... “Your Dad isn’t here to take you hunting, I cannot take you today. You know where the guns are, you know where the shells are, you know to point the gun in a safe direction, you know not to shoot toward the house, you know not to shoot toward anyone’s house, you know not to shoot toward the road, you know not to load the gun until you get into the woods, you know to unload the gun before you come home, you know what to do...GO! BUT, BE CAREFUL...and take a plastic bag for the squirrels so you don’t get blood all over your hunting vest.”
Overwhelmed, excited, and in disbelief, I was being granted permission to hunt for the first time...all by myself. I practically ran to the gun cabinet, but when I got there I went into autopilot. Dad’s words from all the days we had spent together were echoing in my head, “this gun is not a toy...never treat this gun as if it is a toy...do not point a gun at a person...it’s not a game...YOU BE CAREFUL!” I froze as I opened the door to the gun cabinet. Then, I took a deep breathe, grabbed my .410 shotgun along with a few shells and my hunting vest.
I was on my way to the grove of walnut trees nearby, where squirrels were always playing aloft, when it happened. It was then, in that moment when I stopped below the canopy of walnut trees and my brain raced with confidence and my heart filled with joy—it was then that I became a true outdoorsman, it was then I became a hunter...on the inside!
You see, I have good parents who raised me with strong marks of discipline, deep morals, and expressed values. They knew where I stood, they knew I was ready and even against their better judgment I was given the reins. I was given the reins at a very early age because they knew I was ready to become the outdoorsman and hunter I am today!
Those next several years, however, were some rough ones. I did spend a little time with both my Mom and Dad hunting, shooting, and learning what nature had to offer, but for the most part I was on my own.
I held the reins of my outdoorsman and hunting lifestyle...and it showed! As time passed, I grew out of the .410 shotgun I had learned so much with. Dad bought me a .20 gauge and later a .12 gauge, but it was the bow hunting which had me compelled. I grew out of the kid’s Bear recurve and Dad bought me a Horton crossbow. He knew I wanted a newer compound bow, such as a Mathews, but Dad was quick to explain that he would not have enough time to teach me all the things about a compound bow. Yes, I was a bit disappointed, but excitement grew as I realized I had a new style of bowhunting to learn. I was thankful for the crossbow and that’s when my bowhunting career began.
Here’s the story...
My friends and I had been playing basketball all evening. We were playing the old game “the first team to 21 wins.” The score was tied at 20 when I glanced down at my watch. It was almost 11 p.m., which was nearing my curfew (I was 16 years old), but I also had plans to hunt the following morning; I needed to go! So when our team received the ball I called for it, I caught the basketball in stride just beyond the three point line and launched the shot I was notorious for. Nothing but net! The shot was good and I screamed “net burn” as I walked toward my car; I had to go. It was a short drive home that night, but when I got there I went straight to bed. I was too tired to take a shower. Maybe I would take one in the morning?
The alarm clock sounded at 5 a.m. and I struggled to crawl out of bed. I loved to hunt, but I have never been a morning person. I had not taken a shower when I got home from playing basketball the evening before and I was certainly too tired to think of it at five in the morning. As dawn was breaking, I threw on my hunting clothes, grabbed my crossbow, and out the door I went. Just as the house door closed, I heard footsteps coming my way. It was my black Labrador so I stopped, laid down my crossbow, and gave him a big hug, petted him for a few minutes then I was on my way to my tree stand.
The walk to my tree stand was a long one. I had a couple fields to walk through, hills to climb, and a creek to cross. This walk was one I had taken hundreds of times. I made it an easy jaunt by using the open fields, the old grown-up logging roads, and deer trails to get to my tree stand very quickly. It was such a travel pattern I could guess within a minute or two of exactly what time I would get to the stand and I definitely knew what time I would be home. I had it all figured out...so I thought!
I was almost to my tree stand that morning when I came to a small patch of brush where all the deer trails came together. I stopped and listened for deer movement. There was nothing stirring so I continued on through the brush, and wow, did I make a lot of noise.
Finally, I made it to my tree stand. As I leaned over to pick up the rope that I used to pull the crossbow to the top of my stand, my crossbow sling slid off my shoulder and the bow fell into the bottom of my climbing sticks. It made an enormous noise!
That wasn’t enough though. I got the crossbow away from the climbing sticks and grabbed the pull up rope. As I raised the rope, the metal carabiner on the end of the rope struck the climbing sticks too. Metal on metal...again...but I didn’t miss a beat. I hooked up the bow and started climbing the steps. Just like the walk in, I could make it up and into the tree stand in what seemed like seconds. The climbing sticks crackled and popped as I climbed and it was a given that the tree stand platform would give a crackle when I stepped onto it. Noise or no noise it was all good; I was hunting now!
As the sun began to rise, squirrels began playing in the treetops and birds began to sing. I knew it wouldn’t be long before deer would come walking by. Light began illuminating the forest floor, but there were no deer to be seen. An hour later, still no deer...two hours later?...no deer!
“Maybe it's just one of those slow mornings in the woods...” I thought to myself. In reality though, it wasn’t just a slow morning. This lack of deer sightings wasn’t something new. I often struggled to see deer when I hunted. That’s just how it was. Three hours into the hunt I finally heard movement which sounded too loud to be a small animal. Minutes later there he was. It was a mature 10-point buck and he was walking right to me. I began to tremble on the inside; my heart was racing. The tree I was in must have been shaking from my excitement and adrenaline. The huge buck was now within my bow range at 30 yards when he stepped into the area where all those deer trails came together...where I had walked through on my way to the tree stand many hours ago. I shifted my feet on the tree stand platform readying for the shot, but when I shifted my weight, the tree stand made a crackling noise. The 10-point froze in his tracks. Just as he froze, I felt a stiff breeze blow against the back of my neck. “Awww that feels good” I remember thinking. The cool air was calming my nerves and my body temperature. That cool air; however, was blowing straight to the deer. The mature buck lifted his head and licked his nose; he smelled something...something he didn’t like. Then the buck took two steps and smelled the brush along the deer trail where I had walked. His hair bristled and legs began quivering as he began to step backwards. He knew something didn’t belong and I recognized this. Just as I turned the safety off and prepared to raise my crossbow, the huge 10-point looked up at me. Instead of freezing, I yanked the crossbow up as quickly as I could and tried to pick up the buck in my scope. The buck whirled and ran back down the hill where he came from. I stood on that tree stand platform in disbelief. “What just happened? What went wrong?” I thought to myself.
That was nineteen years ago and I would guess many of you know “What just happened?...What went wrong?” It was a combination of many things. It was a combination of all the little things I was doing wrong, but had no idea I was doing them. I just never thought of avoiding walking through fields first thing in the morning, or avoiding walking on the same logging roads deer preferred to travel. I also never thought about how much noise I was making on the walk into the tree stand or the noise I made when I got there. There was so much I was doing wrong and these things should’ve been obvious to me.
For years, Mom and Dad tried teaching me the foundation of hunting, to be quiet in the woods, to move slowly—they tried teaching me many things, but what happened to all that knowledge? Nothing really happened to it; I just never tied it all together. I didn’t understand how one little thing could affect a hunt, I didn’t understand how one little thing could affect another and how all the little things combined could be the difference between success and failure in the deer woods.
Today, however, I feel I could put my hunting and outdoorsman skills up against the best in the world. Why do I think that? Because when it comes to nature and hunting, I’m a sponge! I absorb as much information—anything and everything I can to become more knowledgeable. The more I consider all the fine details, the fewer alert cues I give animals, the fewer warnings that I am approaching, the fewer traces that I even exist in the woods with those animals, and the more successful I become.
Most importantly though, I understand that there is always something new to be learned and never once will I think I know it all. I learn each time I enter the woods! I learn from my successes and I learn from my failures. Since those early years I have absorbed so much knowledge, I have absorbed so much wisdom from just being in the woods year after year. I’ve had my share of missed opportunities and poorly executed hunting plans. I’ve had enough little things mess up my hunts that I feel it’s time to share what I know. I feel it’s time to share what I’ve experienced and what I’ve learned. It is my hope that if I share this knowledge, some young boy or girl, some new hunter, some old hunter who wants to get better can learn from my mistakes.
You know, there is something to be said for “learning from your mistakes,” but it doesn’t need to be that way and I don’t want it to be that way. I want to cut all of that out and help make you a better hunter and outdoorsman now! How can I do this? Well, Have you ever heard of “The School of Hard Knocks?”...sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't write that book. Instead, I’m writing this one.
Why would I write a book? Me? I want to help others; I want to teach others. I want other boys, girls, men, and women who are interested in the outdoors, who are interested in hunting to avoid the mistakes I learned the hard way.
I want to share the idea that it's “The Little Things” which can make or break your hunting career; it’s the little things which may enable you to get the shot of a lifetime at the animals on your hit list. It's the little things which make you a better outdoorsman, a more successful hunter, and it’s the little things which make you a better steward of what nature has to offer.
I can make you a better hunter now, if you will open your mind, and read and absorb the information contained in the following eleven chapters.
There is an infinite number of subjects I would love to cover in this book...however, this book will focus on bow hunting the white tail deer. While these eleven chapters are structured around deer hunting, many of them can also be intertwined with other forms of hunting. These eleven chapters are the foundation to successful hunting with a bow or a gun, regardless of the species.
For some of you, these things may be common sense; but whether you have hunted deer for fifty years or whether this season will be your first time out, I hope to open your mind to at least one thing, one technique, one aspect you've never considered. Inside these pages, I feel, each of you will find at least one new thought process, one new technique, one new way of doing things which will lead to harvesting the trophy of your lifetime.
It's “The Little Things”...remember that!