Tenacity: It is persistence, being tough, and having perseverance. When it comes to hunting, a great many hunters quit a hunt early, quit a season early or quit hunting entirely if they don't kill a deer right away. They are motivated by early success and they measure success by the kill. Our world of instant gratitude preconditions us to expect instant success and this leaks over to the hunting sports as well. And while money can buy fast food and overnight delivery, it cannot produce a game animal when and where you want one. Minnesota can be a tougher state to hunt since baiting deer is not allowed either. Armed with knowledge, experience, and time in the woods, a hunter still needs a dose of luck to bag a whitetail. Anyone who knows me, knows that "tenacity" is my middle name where hunting is concerned. I just don't give up, to a fault sometimes. My first years deer hunting, I went at it long and hard and did not down my first whitetail buck till year three in the woods. I had begun to think I would never get a deer, or that I was jinxed.
Enter my friend Janice, aka Tumbleweed. After six long years of dedicated bowhunting, she had still not harvested a whitetail deer. Early in our friendship, I had thought about trying to offer some advice if I noticed things that might be improved upon. The mother in me just wanted her to get a deer so badly that I didn't even care if I got one. The first time we hunted together and in our many hours of conversations, I soon realized that she was a knowledgeable and experienced hunter who really did not need much advice. Janice's husband is not as avid a hunter as she is, so she usually went hunting apart from him, with other hunters or alone. I really admired her forging out on her own to pursue her passion for bow hunting whitetail deer. She had attended the Becoming An Outdoors Woman weekend years ago, and proceeded to educate herself from there. A stay at home mom, she sought a part time job to acquire her hunting gear, etcetera. Not coincidentally, her part time job is in the hunting industry.
Another thing I hugely admire Janice for, is her dedication to bow hunting in the face of several adversities. For one, she has asthma and the vigor's of hunting exacerbate that condition to the point that she needs inhalers twice a day whether she is hunting or not. She also had scoliosis as a child, wore a back brace for years and had back surgery several years ago due to a herniated disc. Chronic back pain has plagued her these last couple years. Sitting in a tree stand for hours is often a painful experience for her and she sometimes has had to cut her stand time short because of it. Janice will sometimes write in a tiny notebook on stand as a diversion from the pain. (Poetry often comes to her while in a tree.) Janice's four children are a challenge as well, and caring for them, and still fitting her hunting in, is a constant challenge. The funny thing is, you would never know these things about Janice, because of her amiable gentle positive nature. She is not one to wear her "issues" on her sleeve because she just wants to be "one of the guys". She does not dwell on negative things, but looks through them for the positive.
Janice was recently given many kudos at Bowsite.com about her deer kill this year, but one thing jumped out at me above everything else. One writer posted:
"For SIX YEARS Janice has hunted the whitetail virtually without ever seeing one. Rain, snow, heat, doesn't matter, Janice was out there with her bow. She never took the easy way out and picked up her gun. Instead when she was unsuccessful with deer and delighted in taking rabbits and other smaller creatures with her bow and beamed doing it. Janice has been one of the stalwarts of this board and other live chat boards that I have been on and had the pleasure of visiting with her. I can say this of her, she has never said a bad thing about anyone and always is ready to give you a smile with one of her posts... What an absolutely delightful, wonderful representation of our sport and of hunters in general. Congratulations again Janice. May the memory of that first deer always be a thing of beauty that will last forever."
What a testimony of character.
So it was with the six long years it took until she arrowed her first whitetail deer this year. She remained forever positive. I invited Janice up to my hunting shack for a weekend to see if we could get her a deer. She pursued each hunt with zeal and had many close calls, but did not take a deer at my 80 acres. I was unable to hunt that Sunday, so Janice made plans to hunt at the Wilkins farm ten miles away. Janice and I had hunted together there the previous year at the Becoming and Outdoors Woman hunt, and I had arrowed the biggest buck of my hunting career from a stand next to a huge clover field. Janice decided to hunt from that same stand on Sunday, and lo and behold, everything fell into place. The years of practicing, shooting, winning league competitions, hunting, and tuning her skills finally paid off. She could have arrowed an 8-point buck that day too, but the landowner wanted a doe harvested instead and Janice honored that request.
Janice and I have hunted since then, and she and her husband also joined us for the Minnesota firearms opener. I had arrowed a doe from my south food plot stand this year, and Janice had wanted to arrow the doe's nearly grown fawn from that same stand as a kind of de je vous of her doe kill from my buck kill stand. She had patterned the animal, and in fact had many near opportunities, but the deer ultimately eluded her. Hopefully she will get the chance sometime before the 2002 archery season is over.
Tenacity: Her name is Tumbleweed. There were several times when I just wanted to quit a morning or evening hunt because of bad weather or exhaustion, but Janice spurred me on. Sometimes I could not make up my mind if I was going to stay or go home and she patiently waited on me, then gave me that little kick in the pants to get geared up and hit my tree stand. Janice's husband got ill on one of our hunting days, but she and I still hit the woods. I have very few hunting buddies with this kind of passionate attitude. There's an old saying in the business world: "Losers never win, and Winners never quit". You can kill lots of critters, but if killing is the only reason you are out there and if you have an unhealthy attitude, you ultimately are a loser. And you can go a long time and not kill a deer at all... six years in fact... but with the right attitude, you are a winner regardless. Janice got her first whitetail deer this year with her archery equipment, but in my humble opinion, she was successful and she was a winner long before that harvest. Because, in the face of many adversities, she was always positive and she never quit.
© December 2002