“We all have obstacles. The feeling of satisfaction comes by overcoming something.”
A couple weeks ago I arrived at my parking spot on a local WMA about an hour before first light. As I was gathering my gear I hear gravel popping and see lights approaching. It is rare to encounter other hunters on this property so when the opportunity presents itself I always make sure to introduce myself. This gentleman seemed disappointed to find another hunter at his chosen location so I asked where he planned to hunt, his response: “across the creek”.
Now “across the creek” tells me two things. One, he is headed in the same general direction as myself, and two, he is not afraid of an obstacle. This creek stops most hunters. To cross it in fair weather you only need 16″ or 18″ rubber boots. Not much of a challenge really but it stops many dead in their tracks. So, intrigued by his answer, I asked where he planned to head after crossing and his response told me I’d have nothing to worry about. I assured him we wouldn’t be near each other and he should continue with his plans. With a cordial “Are you sure?” he parked his truck and began getting his gear together. A few minutes passed and he walked over and asked me a poignant question. “What happens when it rains?” Now immediately I knew what he meant. For where we cross the creek is only about 30 yards from where it meets a fairly size-able river. When it rains the river swells the creek rises very quickly. I smiled and responded, “you get wet!”
We shared a chuckle but I was also sincere in my response. I’m not one for letting an obstacle stand in my way. Years ago I was working a job that required a lot of long hours and many times this included weekends. This particular year I had been missing a lot of my deer season and was aching to hit the woods. About mid November I got a weekend break. Without much thought, I arrived at this same spot, and as I was pulling my rubber boots on it dawned on my that the river seemed unusually loud. When I went to investigate I remembered we had recently received a lot of rain. The river was exceedingly high and the creek was swollen with the overflow. I knew it would be at least 8-10″ higher than my boot tops. I was 45 minutes from waders or hip boots and the mercury was hovering at about 34 degrees. I contemplated my options and decided my best course of action was to remove my pants and base layer and cross the creek in boxers and bare feet.
Not a pleasant thought but I figured I could dry off, re-dress, and warm up on the walk to my blind. It was bitterly cold and messy, but I made it across and hunted the whole day. The only negative was having to recross that afternoon after seeing no game to speak of. Was it worth it? Absolutely. If for no other reason, I had not been defeated. The river didn’t beat me. Plus, I learned to never come to this spot without a pair of waders in the truck.
There is an old proverb that goes “the grass is always greener on the other side”. While the gist is meant to teach you to be happy with what you have and not be envious of what might “look” better, this usually doesn’t apply to hunting. Especially, on public land where pressure can be high.
Considering many venturing on public land will rarely be out of sight of their pickup, start thinking about how to escape from the crowds. I can promise you the deer are doing the same. Many times an obstacle such as a creek or a river will open up wonderful opportunities for the hunter willing to forge on. And waders will usually get the job done once you know where to cross. If not, there’s always a kayak. Regardless of the method needed, the extra effort will usually be worth the sweat and additional loss of sleep. I will add one word of caution here. I am not advocating that you do something that is out of your comfort zone. Attempting to cross uncharted waters in low light is a recipe for disaster. Do your work ahead of time, know where and how you will cross by doing so in daylight hours. Also, I advise getting familiar with your gear in advance, crossing moving water with waders, or in a vessel, that might be waist deep or better is something one must learn to do. It is important to be confident in your abilities before attempting any crossing while loaded down with gear and possibly in the dark. Also, if possible, be sure a hunting buddy or family member knows what you are doing just in case. Not letting obstacles get in your way does not mean throw caution to the wind and advance at any cost. Be smart and be safe, while being adventurous.
As for my new acquaintance, we spoke again later that day. One deer had been spotted but no shots were taken. We met again the following morning, crossed the creek once more, wished each other well, and headed our own directions. He doesn’t know this, but he earned my respect simply for being willing to face an obstacle head on and pursue the hunt on his terms.
Happy hunting friends.
Steve Angell lives in Gainesville, Georgia with his wife Lorrie and their daughter Bella. He is the owner and operator of Simply Traditional. Steve and his wife Lorrie are the primary sources of all “Simply Traditional” labeled products and he is a major contributor to all articles on the Simply Traditional website.