Team Bad Decision: Prologue
Yesterday, I gave the final go ahead for Team Bad Decision to be formally printed in it’s first (of hopefully many) run of books. We’ve surpassed my pre-order goals for this little project, and I’m living on cloud nine. THANK YOU to everyone who’s supported us along the way.
As a token of my appreciation, I’m releasing the Prologue today…!
If you’d like to read more, please click the PRE-ORDER tab at the top of this page, and get your copy ordered! All pre-orders come signed by yours truly!
Without further ado…!
The subject of this book is undoubtedly hunting. Though I hope you don’t confuse it with any of the serious “how to” hunting books. This is very much a satirical, self-deprecating account of our journey from soft-ass wannabes to less soft, semi-successful backcountry hunters. The following is a mostly sober, generally accurate accounting of the truth pertaining to our exploits.
This story is full of misadventure, success, failure, and a preponderance for us to seek out type two fun.
If you are looking for a book filled cover to cover with stories of success and notched tags, you will not find that here. That’s not to say we haven’t tasted success, but we have failed far more than we have succeeded, and it is those stories that I feel contain the most value.
It is my sincerest hope that you will learn something from us to help you prepare for your time in the backcountry. More importantly, I hope you enjoy our adventures and that they inspire you to make your own. If you can find one nugget among these pages, it will be worth your read. If you have already been educated, I feel confident that you will, at the very least, enjoy the ride.
The main adventurer contained within, besides myself, is Scott Daniels. It is less confusing for me to tell our story through the advent of my own perspective, but Scott’s voice and input ring loud as he filled in my spotty memory and reminded me of subtle details that breathe life into this tale. In the previous paragraph, I alluded to the less successful trips as the ones that hold some of the more important lessons. I will readily admit that while writing about oneself, it is sometimes difficult to not gloss over, or at the very least, down play the mistakes or errors that seem so obvious in retrospect. I will do my best to avoid this trap.
Hunting the backcountry is, without a doubt, the most challenging and rewarding experience outside of fatherhood and marriage (I am contractually obligated to include this part) that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. It is mutually savage and unforgiving, while still leaving the participant with a sense of enchantment. If you can accept the nature of hunting the backcountry, I promise you that the rewards far outshine the challenges.
The backcountry does not care if you have a hundred thousand Instagram followers, or did or did not punch your tag. It is a place that challenges you to find yourself, which is a lesson that has taken me a long time to understand. Though this is not a story of salvation, it is a story of refusal to live an ordinary life.
Thoreau says, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
The implication of this quote terrifies me. I rail against the notion of living such a life and find that the wilderness is the antidote to such complacency.
Hunting in isolation allows an expansion of thought that is difficult to achieve in other mediums of life. The immersion into the relationship of predator and prey while in a landscape of such intimidating beauty brings perspective to understanding the basic principles of life. To hike is wonderful. To hunt is sublime. Hiking steps to the precipice of understanding nature, but hunting takes the leap. The beauty of the wilderness is the one most commonly seen, but it only tells a part of the story. Brutality breathes meaning and life into the landscape. From the smallest insect to apex predators, every creature lives in a constant state of flux. Eat, sleep, hunt, kill. Survive. Live.
This is the story the hunter immerses themselves in. Sliding seamlessly out of the contrived human construct and into the beautifully violent role of the predator. The hunter takes full responsibility, not only for stewardship of the land they tread, but for the prey they kill. Through these interactions, a unique, intimate understanding of nature is achieved.
While we have spent the last few years evolving the way we hunt, the hunting world has also gone through its own changes. The commercialization of hunting has diluted what we consider to be important, instead becoming kill-centric and judgmental. The atmosphere around advertised hunting has become sterile and unexciting, putting the kill before all other aspects of the hunt.
It is discouraging and disappointing.
I am not saying the kill is unimportant. It is of the upmost importance, but it also is not the only thing that should drive us. The backcountry is full of other experiences that make the hunt desirable and it is those experiences which are the primary reason our story is unique and worth telling. Our learning curve was steep, and full of adventure and friendship that cannot be illustrated in a thirty-minute show littered with commercials.
Of course, I am guilty of participating as well. I have been glassing hillsides with epic backdrops and mentioned to Scott how great a picture this would make. There is an entire generation of hunters flooding social media feeds with overly dramatic posts that feed what I have sarcastically dubbed, “The Industry.”
The four pages of hashtags advertising products not because they are quality, but because they are free.
The focus on the kill.
The over-emotional responses to the killing of an animal.
Respect is paramount for one’s self, nature, and the animals we kill, but it is getting to the point where the next step is to erect a memorial.
Hunting speaks to everyone on varying levels. The idea of hunting speaks to the broad base of hunters across all spectrums, and for many it ends there. Some seek the comradery of hunting camp, the time away from the significant other, or trying to reconnect with an aspect of our psyche that is not exercised by many the way it used to be. Others crave adventure, the push to see what limits your body can take, and to do things only because you can. I think our journey touches on all of these aspects. That is the value we bring to you, the reader. Value that can become lost amongst the deluge of social media driven hunting posts and TV specials featuring high-fence ranch hunts.
Thankfully, there are certain corners of the industry that have been pushing back against this mindset. Individuals like Steve Rinella and Randy Newberg to name a few, have been producing quality content for years, and people have noticed. It is my hope that they will continue to carry the banner forward and be the face of the American hunter. Our way of life needs articulate, relatable people at the forefront of interactions with the non-hunting public.
Scott’s favorite saying is: “the comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there.”
This saying describes our mentality perfectly as it pertains to our pursuits in the backcountry. It has been our check against complacency, and a challenge to ourselves to do better when we fail. One of the hardest things we do as human beings is to admit we are wrong, or ill prepared. We find that our experience in failure is best worked out through genuine self-evaluation which we find most easily discerned on the mountain. It cannot be done responding to a forum post or adding a picture of a sunset to your Instagram.
I can distinctly remember chronicling my first spring bear hunt where I had an unfortunate series of events happen and admitted to them on social media. A close friend messaged me, “I don’t know if I would have admitted that.”
Are we so scared of failure that we have to hide it from the public at large?
The answer, on a macro scale, is a resounding “yes.” We see it infiltrating all aspects of our lives, hunting not excluded.
We see the seemingly perfect family on Facebook, who gets divorced three months later.
The kid who hides the fact that he flunked his test from his parents.
The man who posts the buck he killed, but does not talk about the one he wounded and lost the day before.
The hunting celebrity who commits game infractions in the name of creating better footage for his television show.
We have lost the ability to address mistakes or failure, and furthermore, how to apply those lessons to help better ourselves. Social media is perpetually feeding the image of perfection and it is tearing at the fabric of society. We have to remember that it is okay to fail.
It is okay to interact.
It is okay to feel the negative emotions associated with not being the best.
We certainly aren’t.
We hope you enjoy stepping into our world of imperfection where real life happens. Welcome to our journey.
Thanks for reading.
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