Heightened Expectations Create Larger Letdowns
Published: October 28th, 2016
By: Josh Sheldon

In life it’s good to think big, but if you expect it, you may be disappointed. Being realistic and only expecting of yourself what you are actually capable of, will reduce the amount of times you feel you need a kick in the pants. Knowing your limitations and being aware of your capabilities is the foundation of being a good hunter or fisherman.

Outdoorsmen tend to think big and regret to the same degree. You never picture yourself shivering by a tree empty-handed; it’s always the vision of holding a big one that fills our minds. I guess that’s what keeps us going out, because the reality isn’t so bright in most cases. On the other hand, there are days when it seems you can do no wrong. We live for these days and tend to dwell on them much more than the rough ones. Some call it positivity, while others call it being unrealistic. The truth is, you need a balance between the two and must also accept the reality of a moment and deal with it.

I’m one of those people who have trouble sleeping the night before a season opener. I keep having visions of calling in, shooting or catching the trophy of a lifetime. The sad fact is in most cases that first day is nothing like you expected it would be. For example, this weekend was the second opener for goose in our region. As normal I was super excited and was ready to go, but high winds and rain had us throwing in the towel before we even got started. It was a letdown but experience told me not to waste our time. We did go Sunday and headed afield still with high expectations having never been skunked in this field before. Geese tend to fly well on windy days and often get off the water at first light. I believe this is because they are sick of bobbing around and getting smacked with whitecaps. Either way, it tends to make for a fast morning and you get to see plenty of birds. This weekend was a bit of an exception, as the wind was way too heavy. We only saw two flocks which had no intention of landing with us. I suspect they didn’t fly because of the wind, but didn’t talk to anyone else to hear what they saw. No matter what, we were a bit disappointed having been skunked there for the first time. I had high expectations, which were obviously a bit much for the situation. You just can’t help but feel a little let down on days like that, but that’s what makes the good ones so awesome.

A few years back, we had one of those perfect goose hunts we all dream of. There was a consistent 10 mph west wind, which was perfect for how we like to set up at that location. It was super foggy which was worrying at first; that is, until the first flock came in. I barely had to call and only had one goose answering me, which was the lead century of the flock. They were coming in blind and were using my calls to guide them to a safe landing zone. This placed them only feet from our blind, sometimes as many as 50 at a time. Flock after flock it was like they were on a string. We all limited out and ended up just hanging there and calling in more flocks, which we just let land and enjoyed watching. It was surprising how long it took them to realize the decoys were not talking back, or walking around, which would eventually send them packing. I’m pretty sure you could have made a halfhearted call with your mouth that day and got them to come in. I always look forward to another day like that and it keeps me getting up way before sunrise to do so.

So many times I have heard people say you have to take the good with the bad. As hunters and fishermen, this could be no truer a statement. There are less good days than bad but as long as you choose to remember the good ones and forget the bad, it will keep you excited and ready to go. Those who tend to dwell on the bad days typically don’t continue such activities. The fear of a bad day keeps them in bed and ensures an uneventful day of hunting, as you haven’t even gone. On the other hand, if you always expect the perfect day, you may become discouraged and quit. Find that happy medium and take what you can from the unsuccessful days, whether it be a beautiful eagle that flies by, or some good old outdoor education by trial and error.

Good wishes and don’t allow yourself to be let down.