It was the morning after Thanksgiving in the year of 2002 and I found myself rolling around in my bed, having slept only a few hours through the night. I looked at the clock and it was 5:22 AM. Although I should have been tired from being out late the night before, I couldn’t sleep. I still had a deer tag and the “inner voice” in my head kept telling me to get out of bed and hunt. I have learned through the years to listen to that inner voice and motivate myself when it comes into play, so I hopped out of bed. I fired through the shower, threw on my camo, tossed my bow in the back of my truck and jumped on Interstate 696 west towards Wixom, Michigan to hunt a chunk of property a buddy of mine owned. He kept telling me that in the summer he had seen a hulk of an 8-point a few times while screwing around on his 4-wheeler. I hung a tree stand a few weeks back along what I perceived to be the big 8-pointer’s rub line beside a creek running along the west side of the property. I had not yet had a chance to hunt the spot.
I stopped at a Mobil station to snag a coffee and I realized the wind was howling out of the north as I walked across the parking lot. I thought to myself, “oh crap, this wind sucks for me. I will get busted for sure if I sit in that tree stand, so I guess I am ground hunting.” This thought comes from an instant awareness of the environment around me. When I left my house, the wind was out of the west and barely blowing. Now just 20 miles west of my house the conditions have changed and I instinctively call an audible. The instincts and awareness of an avid bow hunter have served me well in life. I have learned to trust these instincts in business and in life and they no doubt stem from my experience hunting in the field. This same awareness has saved my life on a mountain in Idaho, bailed me out of the worst of business situations, and carried me through brutal meetings that looked like impossible situations. You do not have to be a bow hunter to have these instincts nor that “inner voice” that motivates you, but thinking like a bow hunter will help you in life.
As I parked my truck at the property, I thought to myself, “maybe luck will be at the side of the able navigator today”, and I started my trek to the general area where I intended to spend my morning hunt. I was totally awake and conscious; my instincts came into play and that inner voice fired up again and told me to hunt further south of where I was heading. I listened. I was confident that if Mr. Hulk 8-pointer showed up where I figured he would, I would be positioned with the wind in my favor. I didn’t use trail cameras back in 2002 so it was all a best-guess scenario, but I trust my instincts when it comes to hunting mature whitetails. I believe that on the mornings where you listen to your inner voice and you trust your awareness and knowledge that is embedded into your being, good things can and often do happen.
I nestled into some cover and pulled down my camo face mask, set my quiver on the ground and nocked an arrow. I couldn’t see much of anything as it was still pre-daylight and the ground was flat and covered with brushy bushes. There was a hard frost on the ground and as it began to lighten up, the frost-tipped brush looked breathtaking as rays of the first light of the day gleamed through. The morning was slow, other than a few squirrels and some birds playing in the trees. Then out of nowhere a doe comes trotting by me, and I realize she is in heat by the funky tail dance she has going on. I hear a deep grunt and some thrashing around in the brush in front of me and my heart starts pounding. I come to my knees and I take a deep breath but I cannot see a thing around the brush-covered ground. Then I see him and he is indeed a hulk of an 8-pointer. He’s almost a freak show 8-point, the biggest I have ever seen on hoof in Michigan.
I hear the crunching noise with each step he takes and I begin to shake hard as serious buck fever sets in. Bending around a prickly bush in front of me, I put a rangefinder on him and I realize he is now at just over 40 yards away, standing broadside. I pull my bow back as calmly and fluidly as possible and lean out to the right so I have a clear view. I put my sight pin behind his shoulder and release my arrow. “I hit him a little far back,” I think to myself, as I had a pretty good eye on the arrow as it flew off of my rest towards the giant 8-point. “Definitely a fatal hit, but it could have been further up. It’s probably best to sit for a while and then go look in an hour or so and see what kind of blood I can find.”
After what seemed like the longest one-hour wait of my life, I walk to where the deer was standing and spot my blood-covered arrow that passed through him. I make my way up the blood trail and then I see his massive antlers sticking up glistening in the sun. I nearly faint when I realize how incredible this majestic buck is. The Thanksgiving buck is to this day the biggest 8-point I have ever harvested. While I never registered him into the record books, I believe he is unofficially one of the top three 8-points ever taken by bow and arrow in Michigan scoring nearly 160 inches. I have never entered the Thanksgiving 8-point nor any other deer I have killed into the record books as it just has never been my thing. I suppose if I ever broke the world record or something this would change, but I am fine with scoring him, naming him, and mounting him on my wall, as it is more about the buck than myself in my eyes. After all, he is the one that survived the wild for 6 years, and one can only imagine the will, the patience, and the sixth sense he must have possessed before finally making a fatal error on the morning after Thanksgiving 2002. What I will never forget is the way that my inner voice pushed me to the field that day and then guided me to the perfect spot in the dark. Without my hunter’s instincts and that inner voice, I would have been eating Thanksgiving leftovers and watching SportsCenter. Instead, I shot the buck of a life time.
Have you ever had a time when your inner voice was trying to drive you to do something or to take action and you didn’t know why, but you knew you should listen? The next time your inner voice is trying to motivate you to rally or to pivot perhaps you should listen. I believe that when we are attuned to the universe this “inner voice” will enter with more and more clarity and purpose. Sometimes it’s simply our ego playing with us, but often it is a sign. The clearer we get, the more authentic we are, the better our instincts become. There are an infinite number of great opportunities in the world, but without an attuned mind, body, and soul we will limit the number of them that come our way and are successfully pursued, whether in business, life, or on a hunt. Start paying attention to that inner voice!