By Rob Shaul
I’m approaching four dozen failed bowhunting stalks on pronghorn antelope between last year and this year.
Mostly the antelope “bust” me … they have incredible vision and a “6th” sense I’ve yet to overcome.
But on several of these failures, I’ve made the mistake.
Last year I snuck up to within 15 yards of a young antelope buck, went to put my release in my bowline and “click” – I’d failed to set my release prior. Know that by this time I had taken hundreds, if not thousands, of shots at the range – each time setting my trigger – but this time I didn’t.
That “click” from my release was all it took for that young buck to explode out of there.
This year I was putting a stalk on a bedded buck antelope from a perfect elevated approach, when my broadhead caught in the sagebrush and pulled my arrow out of the bow string. The barely audible “pop” when the arrow pulled free was all it took for the buck to explode away.
My last fail …. I was so focused on finding this one bedded doe antelope my tunnel vision prevented me from seeing the other three does 20 yards to my left standing there watching me creep forward on all fours. When I turned toward these three does, they exploded away, taking the bedded doe with them.
At 29 years old, and perhaps even at 39, I would have been the one to “exploded” at this last failure in anger and subsequently blame the antelope, “stupid sport,” nature or myself.
Now, at 49, I laughed at my mistake, and stood in awe, humbled again by these animals and the subtle, sophisticated art of bow hunting.
Instead of stomping away upset, disappointed and feeling sorry for myself, I felt warmly serene, and immediately my attention moved from the missed opportunity to golden morning sun rays ricocheting off silver-green sagebrush tops.
Humility and humor are brothers, and together offer a path to solace.
On humility …. I’m not sure which comes first … the hard life lessons which squeeze it out of you, or the wisdom which hopefully evolves and teaches you that you’re nothing special, thus making you humble.
Regardless, humor lubricates the process. For whatever reason, everything in life is hard, and at some point you’ll find you can’t help but smile at difficulty’s arrival, rather than be surprised and disappointed.
Ultimately the spiritual weight of self-righteousness begins to lift, making room for solace to elbow in.
This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like one day you wake up humble and smiling all the time and experiencing a zen-like serenity. This certainly hasn’t been my experience.
I’m ashamed of the hissy fits I still throw over little shit. Too often humor is overpowered by petty anger and disappointment. I have much work to do.
But I’m able to laugh at myself and smile at life’s issues more and more all the time. Life isn’t any easier, but is more enriching, because of it.