If you asked me what drives me to hunt, I could defer to that fact that I love gear and I cannot deny it. I cannot deny the thrill of the chase when it finally comes together and mallards land on your head all morning, monster bucks sprint to your snort-wheeze, or toms all but trip over one another to stick their beak into your choke before hearing the sonic boom. Were I forced to choose, though, I’d admit that what drives me to hunt is that no matter how much I prepare, I never, ever know what is going to happen on any given day. If you want to live and hunt well, then you must embrace the truth that the journey itself is the trophy you’re pursuing.
Tomorrow we will be featuring a hunt in South Dakota. I was in camp with David Blanton, Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, and a few other friends. To be candid, what I remember most about this hunt is not the fact that we killed 16 birds in 4 days. What I remember most was the people I met along the way. In this case, two men in particular: Chris Cammack and Chris Yeoman.
Chris Yeoman and I hunted the entire four days together. He took me all over creation, just so I could stack up gobblers, with nothing to gain from it. He showed me more grace than any one person deserves. Our conversations were pure gold, and I can only hope I’ll cross paths with him again.
Big Yo and I began pursuing some new territory to hunt as I was seeking to fill my last tag, and through a friend of a friend, we ran into Chris and Felicia Cammack. Chris is one of the most creative taxidermists I’ve ever encountered. His wildlife art ranges from a trophy mounts, all the way to his forte, which is creating elaborate trophy rooms with paintings, and yes, mechanical mounts, all of which will simply leave you speechless. Not only did he take two days off to show me where more birds were located, but Felicia literally cooked me and Yeoman, two rank strangers, South Dakota beef steaks that were worth the airfare alone. (www.prairiemountainwildlife.com)
Often in life you get what you want. If a kill is what you’re after, a kill is what you’ll probably get. However, if you want to build a trophy room that never disappoints, then you must look at the hunt as the entire process: the flight, the meals, the stories, the scenery. You must hunt with eyes wide open, and obsessions simply won’t let you do that. Obsessions drive you to being consumed with yourself, and obsessions are sure to bring the death of your heart. More than that, however, obsessions rob you of life’s greatest treasure… people.