Lessons From Our Second
We just spent a week up in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan on our second whitetail deer bowhunt. Our second bowhunt turned out very different from our first; this year we had the pleasure of walking away from our hunt with a freezer full of wild venison!
Even though we were successful this year, we still learned a ton of lessons out in the country and up in those tree stands. These are the most important lessons we learned during our 2022 bowhunting adventure:
1. Know Your Power
This one isn’t really related to hunting, but it is important to staying warm in an RV out in the country while hunting! On both of our bowhunting trips, we have done a modified version of boondocking: not hooked up to water or sewer, but with a basic 15 amp extension cord plugged into a friend’s house. And this year, we learned a very important secret to getting the most out of those 15 amps!
A couple days into our stay, we noticed that when the batteries got low, the converter on the RV would sometimes pull the full 15 amps just to charge the batteries! That meant that if we wanted to use even one more appliance, we would trip the circuit breaker. So we decided to turn our converter off during the morning & night when it was cold and we wanted to use the heat, and then we could charge the batteries during the daytime when the sun was up and we were warm. It worked like a charm! I don’t know how often other RVers find themselves plugging into a 15 amp extension cord, but if you do find yourself in that position, we highly recommend keeping an eye on how much power your converter is sending to your batteries (we use this battery monitor).
2. Get Video Evidence
If there’s one thing almost everyone seems to agree on with bowhunting, it’s that it’s HARD! So many parts of bowhunting are difficult, and one that can really weigh on a hunter’s mind is whether their shot was placed well. The moment can pass so quickly and with so much adrenaline that it’s often hard to see exactly where your arrow went and know if you took a good shot.
One thing we used this year that we didn’t have last year was bow-mounted cameras. We took two Insta 360 cameras and strapped them right onto our bows, and all we had to do was press record and these cool little cameras recorded everything a full 360 degrees around us. This was especially helpful in discovering an incredible thing deer do called “jumping the string,” where they can literally react fast enough to fully dodge an arrow after it has left the bow string. We could review 2 of Tyler’s shots on video, see that they were perfectly placed, and see that the deer had dodged the arrow completely. This video evidence helped Tyler decide to take only very close shots under 20 yards, and led to a very good shot on a doe.
3. Stay in Shape
We’ve heard people say, “you never know what deer will do,” and this year Tyler got to fully experience that. After tracking down and finding the doe he hit, she surprised all of us by making one last adrenaline-spiking sprint up a hill in the dark. You guessed it, Tyler got to follow her on that hill sprint to make sure we didn’t lose her. Animals are incredibly fast, incredibly strong, and incredibly unpredictable, and taking on the responsibility of hunting means taking on the responsibility of following that animal as far as you possibly can in the hopes of recovering it. Luckily for us, Tyler had been running and sprinting hills as part of his workout, and he was able to keep up with the doe and recover her.
4. Calm Down & Stay Focused
In my own hunting journey thus far, I am completely enthralled by the concept of staying focused and how difficult it is! On my first squirrel hunt, I learned a lot about what it takes to stay mentally focused when the adrenaline of a hunt kicks in, but this fall I discovered that everything I had learned from my experience went right out the window when a deer walked into range. I had 4 different opportunities where a deer was in range, and 3 out of those 4 times I scared it away by moving too fast or breathing too hard. I am still blown away by the amount of sheer willpower and mental control it takes to hunt, and I think that’s part of what captivates me about hunting.
5. Just Get Out There
Practicing is definitely important, and it’s vital to know that you have the technique to take a good shot before you aim your bow at an animal. But this year, I learned so much that I never could have practiced for! I think it’s one of the most frustrating things about hunting that we only have a short window of opportunity to hunt each year, and therefore a short window of time to practice all the things that go into hunting. All we can do about that, though, is just keep getting out there and keep learning. This was my first year, and I didn’t even take a shot on a deer, but I feel so glad that I was able to practice drawing my bow in close proximity to the deer, and I know what I need to work on for next year. Tyler had a successful hunt, and he now knows what he wants to work on to be able to take longer shots and mitigate “jumping the string” as much as possible.
There are so many aspects to hunting that we would have never known to practice or improve on if we didn’t get out there. Even if you’re not ready to take a shot, just getting out there, drawing your bow, or even just sitting in a tree stand with the animals is a great way to learn, and it’s a great way to spend a fall morning.
Tyler & Andrea
If there’s one thing we know in the Hixson household, it’s that we want our lives to be wild, free, and lived intentionally. With that as our motto, it makes sense that our resume is pretty eclectic; we’ve started and successfully run our own marketing company, we’ve lived in an RV and traveled the country, we’ve created documentaries, hosted podcasts, learned to hunt and fight, and most recently helped build a no gi jiu jitsu gym in our new home of Bastrop, Texas.
We love doing things ourselves and finding self-sufficiency and independence in unexpected places. From the food we cook all the way up to the businesses we run, we put a lot of thought into everything we do (probably too much thought!) and we feel strongly that that’s what makes our life extraordinary.
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