We all know the guy who tags out every year; the guy we gossip about and scrutinize. How does he do it? How does he locate and kill a good buck each fall? The answer to this seemingly perplexing question is in fact much more straightforward than we think, he merely puts in the time and pays his dues. He gets up earlier, and goes to bed later, he studies air photos instead of Facebook posts and he spends his spare time on back-roads rather than in front of a TV. He works hard for the chance at a mature buck each fall and puts himself in the best possible position to succeed and most importantly, he hunts where big bucks are. It sounds a bit facetious, but you cannot kill a big buck if he is not there.
Each season should be a learning experience. You need to embrace failure while hunting because inevitably, you will. Hear me out, I am not implying that your season will be a failure if you do not tag out, just realize that you will make mistakes and you will fail at times. When you fail, learn and move on; learn what you did wrong and remember what worked. The six inches between your ears is the most valuable tool that you have in your hunting arsenal, so make mistakes and learn from them. There is no set pattern that guarantees success year after year; you must learn and adapt. It is no surprise that the vast majority of elite whitetail hunters that I know are over the age of 40. Most of them have taken their lumps and screwed up on bucks that would make your knees tremble. The one factor that made them better hunters was that they accepted their failures and adapted into better outdoorsman.
I am as guilty of this as anyone. I have had seasons where I threw up the red flag of defeat and spit out a bunch of b.s. pertaining to hunting pressure, weather conditions and a handful of other factors that contributed to my lack of harvesting a target animal. But in reality, he just beat me. It had nothing to do with any single specific variable other than he bested me on his turf and in a way, it is these same failures that make hunting so enjoyable. If hunting were easy, everyone would tag the trophy of their dreams each fall. Work hard, hunt hard and pay your dues.
Bottom line, If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it. If you want to hunt big deer, you have to hunt where big deer are and if you’re going to kill big deer, you must learn and adapt to become a better all-around hunter.