Whether you’ve whiffed a chip shot on a whitetail or spent days in the backcountry without hearing a single bugle, there’s always something you can take away from a hunting fail.
If you’ve never finished a hunting season with tag soup, you probably haven’t been doing this too long. Every hunter–no matter the prey–leaves the woods empty-handed at some point, and it can be discouraging. But that time spent outdoors is never wasted.
Even when you fail to fill a tag, here are four things sportsmen can take away from a hunting trip.
1. New Knowledge
Every experience chasing wildlife should ultimately make you a better hunter. You’ll witness new aspects of animal behavior, how different species interact with each other, and what you can get away with (think sound, movement, and smell).
If it’s your first time deer hunting during the rut, you might see big bucks acting completely out of character. If you head to mule deer country, you’ll have another experience altogether. You can learn a lot about game animals just by putting in the hours.
2. Invaluable Intel
Even if you have no luck running and gunning during spring gobbler season, you might be able to spot some deer sign as you cover miles of public land. Use one hunting season to scout for another, and you might walk away with some great spots to hang treestands, set up trail cameras, or plant food plots.
3. Lessons Learned
Half-hearted preparation for bowhunting is the recipe for tag soup, and wearing the wrong getup could get you busted or frostbitten. Failed hunting trips can be a great opportunity to learn what not to do next time around. Take your mistakes and turn them into lessons.
4. More Memories
Especially if you’re hunting with friends and family, any hunting trip should at least leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Trekking beautiful country, feeling your heart race when a stick breaks, and laughing around the campfire will always beat a day at the office.