** The following is an article that I wrote for The Liberty Project. It was originally published on November 16, 2015 here. I was never paid by The Liberty Project so they don't own the copyright.
Why trusting yourself is key for success in the outdoors
It is critical to know and feel comfortable with any situation you put yourself in. This is especially true if your goal is to bring home meat for the freezer. You need to have a level of knowledge and understanding about why you are there and what you want to accomplish. Everything about being successful in the outdoors comes from a sense of trust: in yourself, your tool and your training.
My training came from my Dad. I started to learn and trust his experiences about where the deer were more likely to come out into an opening, where we should build a tree stand and that I could and would shoot a deer. When it came time to take that first deer, I remember asking Dad if it was ok and then after, if I had hit the deer. His reassurance and confidence in me has helped to make me a better hunter and trust my own judgement and skills. When I shot my first deer without him sitting next to me, it helped to know that he was nearby in the woods. He was, and still is, the reassurance that if I get into any sort of trouble that I cannot handle, he is there to help me out. It is his ongoing trust and support in me that keeps me focused and going when nothing seems to be going right and the deer just don’t show up. If I only see a squirrel after 10 hours in the woods, I hear his voice telling me, “Every day in the woods is a new adventure” and I am grateful for the opportunity to be there.
Every year my trust in myself and my gun gets a little stronger. While I carry my gun around in the woods, I never lose sight of the fact that it is a tool whose sole purpose is to kill. I become more familiar with the weight of it, where the barrel is pointing and how high I carry it when moving from one seat to another. The one thing that stuck with me from hunter’s safety was the saying that a gun’s safety is a mechanism prone to failure. After 13 seasons in the woods, I am now more comfortable handing and using the gun. I know where I need to aim and I know how my hands fit around the gun, the feel of it in my shoulder and the recoil that comes after every shot.
My ethics have also helped me trust myself in the woods. Knowing my gun and knowing that the purpose of my hunt is to put meat in the freezer, I am aware of the size of the animals that I am taking (no does with fawns, no sows with cubs) and the impact that it will have on the local ecosystem. I also will not take a shot that I am not totally confident about. I have written a few times on my blog about the reasons behind my hunting from a tree; I can’t trust myself to take a good shot while am animal is running. I will not take a shot that could wound a deer so I work to make sure I am comfortable with the angles and possible shots that I may have to take. As a right handed shooter, there are shots that I just will not be able to make from where I sit in my tree stands. In cases like this, I enjoy watching the animals interact and enjoy the world around them and I try to learn more about their behaviors.
Trusting yourself as an outdoors woman is critical to your self-esteem and self-reliance. There is something powerful about being able to go on a successful hunt and know how to clean, butcher and cook. It is not easy to just walk into the woods knowing that the reason you are there is to kill an animal. Many people take for granted what they are doing and the main reason behind hunting in the first place. Being able to trust in yourself and have confidence will ensure that every trip into the woods is one where you are comfortable in your skills and ethics.