On Nov. 4 of this year, I was very lucky and blessed by God to shoot a very nice buck. As I saw it go down only 70 yards from my tree, I was so thankful that my arrow found its mark. I’ve hunted long enough to know how fortunate I was. Everything had to go just right to be successful, and I’m very humbled. Being a Christian, I thanked God over and over.
To keep things in perspective, all I have to do is think back to other hunts that did not go so well. Back in 2013, I thought I’d made a perfect 20-yard shot on what would have been my best typical whitetail ever. I was so sure and cocky that when three of my friends showed up and we followed what looked like a great blood trail, I was to the point of almost bragging. Well, two and a half hours later — after tracking 250 yards — this big whitetail jumped out of a milo field. We watched him run 600 yards and he looked fine. I looked a long time for that deer and although you can never be completely sure, I believe it recovered and was fine. A mature whitetail is a tough animal.
That day I learned a hard lesson about being humble.
If you’re a fellow outdoorsman, I’m sure you’ve probably run into those people who talk and talk, not allowing you to get a word in. If you listen to these sportsmen, it sounds like they have never made a mistake. They see huge deer or catch lots of fish every time they enter the outdoors and make it sound so easy. Sometimes they’ve made mistakes or had bad days, but it’s never their fault — it was just bad luck. They seem to have selective memories.
We’ve also run into those fellow hunters who have a good experience and all of a sudden become experts, telling everyone else what they need to do. When we find success, we should be humble and realize that we’re actually blessed and lucky, and having success doesn’t mean we’ve magically changed into experts.
I remember standing on Webster dam years ago trying to catch walleye. There had to be at least 30 fishermen lined up. Finally one fisherman caught a nice walleye. He proceeded to tell everyone else what we needed to do to catch fish. He was lucky and had caught one fish. He needed to realize this and be humble.
A couple years ago, I was fishing for trout at the Webster stilling basin. I was fishing from the shore with probably 20 others and we were all struggling to catch fish. Well, two boats were having great success. They were both fly fishing and catching fish on almost every cast. While one fisherman never hardly said a word, the other fisherman wouldn’t shut up. He kept announcing to the world about what a great day he was having. I’ll admit it didn’t really bother me, but the fisherman next to me had finally had enough, and told us all how he was sick and tired of this guy and about how little success we were having. The successful fisherman could have been more humble.
I believe by being humble and recognizing our mistakes, we become better outdoorsmen. I also believe some people don’t ever change. I guess my point is that even in everyday life, in order for us to change and become better people, we need to see our faults and try to do better every day.
A good friend of mine told me about a famous trout fisherman who had written in his book that no matter how many fish you caught — even if you’ve had one of the greatest days of your life, when asked, you should reply, “I caught a few and had a great day.” That’s a fine example of being humble.
Rick Cunningham is an avid outdoorsman from Ellis, KS