What makes a successful hunt or hunter? Is it a huge set of antlers, memories made, the experience, or meat for the family? If you look at social media, a successful hunt results in trophy antlers. But there is more to it. Was the hunt on public or private? Was it a special draw unit? What was the animal genetics there? Did the hunter find the bull or buck by his skill or by paying outfitters, guides, and scouts to do all the work for him? Ultimately, a successful hunt is in the eye of the beholder. Where I grew up, a small two-point blacktail was a trophy and reason to celebrate. Success is relative and may not even be about the animal. A successful hunt could mean leaving the field thankful for God's beautiful creation, for camaraderie with friends, or for a time of refreshing solitude.
What about a skilled hunter? Skill differs greatly from the definition of success. Success can be accomplished by luck or used to describe one hunt. A skilled hunter is the most lethal; for he (or she) knows their craft. A skilled hunter finds, stalks, and kills with efficiency and consistency. This kind of hunter knows how to move, where to look, and when to act. The most skilled hunters are those who can locate a mature specimen consistently. This is where the term "trophy" comes into play. Typically, a large set of antlers shows an animal is mature and experienced. Thus, this animal is rare, hard to find, and difficult to hunt on public land.
My goal is for every hunt to be a success. For me, this simply means to get out there and come back having had a good time. Even more, I desire to be a skilled hunter who can take a mature bull every year with my bow. I have far to journey for these goals as they can only be proven through a lifetime—and I have only yet begun.
What do success and skill mean to you?