CHOP YOUR OWN WOOD
"Chop your own wood, and it’ll warm you twice." It's a saying I've heard time and time again, and I think it's something everyone needs to hear. It means that when you do something yourself, you’ll get twice the reward because you worked hard for it. The reward of doing and learning, and the reward of your success.
This past Fall, my Dad and I joined Spurred Outdoors for a podcast episode where we discussed turkey hunting and making mistakes on hunts. As a young girl, my Dad did a lot of work to get me out hunting. He was the one that prepped everything. “I’m so used to playing ‘Guide’ that sometimes I forget I need to let her do things on her own,” he said. Throughout my upbringing, I wanted to speak up and tell my Dad, “No, I want to do this,” or “Let me do it myself,” like an independent 4 year old. As a kid, I felt I would do something wrong, it would take too long, or I would just be in the way. I was intimidated. As morbid as it sounds, eventually I realized, I won’t always have someone to set stands for me, call for me, pack for me, and help me in general. I realized I truly love hunting, and one day, if I don’t have hunting buddies, I’ll have to start doing things myself.
There’s been times where I have been afraid to place trail cameras on my own because I didn’t want to miss out on getting deer on camera and wasting time. There’s been times where I have been too afraid to call or rattle because I haven’t wanted to mess up and give myself away. There’s been times where I just stuck to properties I knew, because I was too nervous to venture on my own and didn’t want to be let down with a “No.” I realized something, though. The worst things that could happen, were that I would be told, “No,” or that I would call or rattle poorly and I wouldn’t see a deer or turkey, or I would hang a stand wrong, or that it would take too much time. Despite all those thoughts, I realized the best things that could happen. I could get told, “Yes,” and I could put my scouting skills to the test and improve them. I realized that I could call in a Tom or a Buck on my own, and I would learn how to improve, and what calls worked best. I realized that I would figure out when the best time to shoot was, and that even if it does take me an hour to hang a stand, it’ll get hung, and I’ll use that practice and what I learned from it, to do it better and quicker next time.
It’s easy to let people do things for you, but I can assure you the reward of doing something yourself is beneficial even without success. The best way to learn is to struggle, make mistakes, and try again. For example, my Dad can hang a stand in about a half an hour, but it takes me, at the very least, an hour. I’m slow and not nearly as strong. This past fall, I was hanging a stand and had to redo it probably three different times before I was satisfied. By the end, I was sore, sweaty, and “slightly” crabby. In fact, in all the years of hunting with my dad, I learned a few choice words (and how to use them correctly) that I had used in that moment, but I digress. To this day though, I have so much pride in that stand. I chose the placement myself, screwed in the steps, hauled the hang-on up the tree, strapped it in, tested it, unstrapped it, moved it, re-strapped it, tested it again, etc. Throughout the bow season, I saw a lot of deer from that stand, and even shot from it after a shooter walked directly under it. That alone, was rewarding enough.
The point is, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning or improving. I don’t think I have ever had a hunt, by myself or with my Dad, where everything has gone perfectly. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of our most successful hunts have been ones where things have gone wrong. Whether its hanging a stand, calling, setting out trail cameras, scouting, planting a food plot, I recommend doing everything in your power, regardless of age, gender, etc, to try doing things yourself. Watch YouTube, listen to podcasts, read articles, use apps, and practice calling. There are so many resources out there that can help you be successful, but the most valuable one, is just getting out and doing it.
These days, I’m the one telling my Dad how I want to do things, doing my own calling, scouting on my own, etc. To the mentors that do everything, let your kids, mentee’s, significant others, do it themselves. Educate them, be patient, and let them find their way. Let them make mistakes and help them learn from them. Not only will it be more rewarding for them, but for you as well. Their success, will become your success. “Chop your own wood. It’ll warm you twice.”