It’s no secret that I dislike change, but if you’ve been following my posts you may remember that I have been trying to break out of my comfort zone over the last few months, despite my ever growing list of “what ifs” and fears. I had been planning on spending the long weekend Way Up North, so excited to have a job where I get Columbus Day off. When I started planning where I was going to hunt, I realized something. Turns out, I even have what I would call a bubble on the mountain where my family has been hunting since before I was born. All week long I kept telling myself you’re not just going to sit where you know, you’re going to walk. You’re going to learn the mountain a little better, you’re going to get out of the comfort zone. Although I kept telling myself these things, I had doubts about whether or not I would be able to push myself to follow through. To actually step out of my comfort zone, feel the discomfort, and keep going.
Saturday, after hunting in the morning in a spot I am familiar with, I decided it was time to take a walk and find a “new to me” place to sit the next day. I went to the other side of the mountain and picked out a place to sit the next morning, even left myself a marker so I knew where to cut in off the old logging road that I had been following. The next morning, in the almost dark, the woods looked completely different. This happens a lot, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I had never hiked into this spot in the dark, and I wasn’t really super confident that I could find where I had picked out to sit in the daylight. As I stood on the logging road and listened in the dark there were leaves rustling around me, making the woods unbearably eerie. I wanted so badly to turn around and go in and sit in my car until it got lighter, but I talked myself out of it. I took my time, and I found my spot. I surprised myself a bit, and remember thinking ok that wasn’t so bad after I finally sat down.
That afternoon I decided to take another walk – this time much further up the mountain to where my dad likes to sit – what he calls “up high.” It was a hike to say the least; I even texted my dad at one point “this mountain is kicking my a**, I don’t know how you do it all the time”. I tried to keep my mind occupied as I walked along, to make mental notes of landmarks, things that I felt I would recognize the next time I made the hike. Eventually I picked a spot to sit and settled in for the evening hunt. Heading out as the woods got dark was almost as eerie as walking into an unfamiliar spot that morning, but I just took my time and poked down the mountain, trying not to let my wandering mind get the best of me.
The last day I went off on another long hike after my morning sit, and found a promising spot for rifle season. As much as I wanted to sit there for the evening, it was just too thick and my arrow never would have made it into a deer through the brush. As I sat there overlooking the slope I had just conquered, I finally felt like I had accomplished something; it was the first time all weekend that I had seen actual fresh signs of having deer around.
Even though I didn’t see any deer this weekend, I would say it was an extremely successful hunt for me. I know now that stepping out of my comfort zone is more a mind game than anything; the trick for me? Don’t overthink. Every time I caught myself overthinking I tried to change the subject, so to speak. I focused on what I was doing, why I was there, and my goals. I wanted to stop and turn back more than once over the course of the three days, but I held myself accountable and just kept going. I was SO much more confident when I walked out of the woods at the end of the weekend, and I felt like I truly accomplished something.
There have been many times where I had the opportunity to accompany different people to go learn different parts of the mountain, but I always said “I don’t like change.” Change and evolution are necessary; necessary to learn, improve, and be a better hunter. I can honestly say that taking my own advice and pushing myself to step out of my bubble not only has boosted my confidence in my own abilities as a hunter but as a person in general. I hope to keep the momentum going as we finally open MA bow season in Zone 2 tomorrow.
How can you enjoy nature and all it has to offer from your bubble? The answer: you can’t.
Get out of your own way. Make some changes. Check out that new spot, hike to the other side of the mountain, hunt by yourself; do whatever you can to push yourself to evolve, learn, and grow. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the woods. Happy hunting!