Few can tell a good story like a fisherman. Maybe it’s the amount of time they have, sitting by lakes and streams, to plan their story’s delivery carefully. But I’ve met very few who couldn’t captivate their listeners. They start by spinning a tale that would make you believe they’d caught the Loch Ness monster. Intertwined throughout, they note the type of tackle they were using. They seem amazed that their equipment, as good as it might be, could withstand the seemingly massive weight on the end of their fishing line.
At the end of the story, they describe the size of the fish. Spreading their hands further apart with every retelling, the fish and the story improves with age.
After awing the crowd, they might show off a picture. It may or may not be impressive. But, no matter what, you’ll often feel the satisfaction of an excellent tale.
Some hunting stories aren’t very different from fishing tales. The hours that go into the adventure and putting a puzzle together are much the same.
Unfortunately, hunters often are smitten with the kill and not as much about telling the tale. Juicy details are ignored so often that the quality of many a hunting story degrades over time. Frankly, they become dull.
Big adventures aren’t for everyone. However, a drab story often leaves hunters and non-hunters alike unfulfilled. If you want your stories to be accurate and captivating, you should consider what makes the saga belong to you.
How would you like your story conveyed? Do you want people to see that hunting and the outdoors can also relate to them? Is hunting just an excuse to party and get away from life and your family? How does it bring meaning to the people in your life?
To build your story from beginning to end, here are some elements for you to chew on before your next tale unfolds.
Of course, every story needs a hook to catch a listener’s interest. But what hunting stories possess that fairy tales lack is a real-life cookout, a photo, a trophy. Something that can begin to pique the curiosity of a potential listener without even speaking.
If leaving the field without a kill, pull one small detail from your hunt. It can begin by painting a picture of the pure adrenaline that caused a case of buck fever. That rush, in turn, caused “the one that got away.”
Maybe it started with a bear that tried to climb into your tree. Or what about the buck that stepped into your bowstrings before you could pull it up after you. Whatever it was, activity in nature speaks for itself. Hunters and non-hunters alike are surprisingly fascinated by any happenings in the woods.
Everyone hunts for a different reason. Maybe the hunt is for the horns, or it could be for the thrill. A freezer full of meat or even the need to curtail crop damage might be the motivation.
It’s not always a conscious effort to understand what hunting means to you. But consider taking a moment to think about the function and purpose of hunting in your life. That purpose will infuse your stories with more meaning and make them more engaging.
Communicating the Challenge
Describing the challenges faced makes up the body of a good tale. How hard did you work to create an ending for your story? Did it include designing a landscape fit for whitetails, complete with food plots and hinge-cut bedding? Did you use a detailed trail camera strategy to put the puzzle together? Were your adventures grueling, physical, and gratifying? Did the hunt have a similar euphoric feeling as a strenuous workout?
These fine details don’t need to drag on, but they should display the level of dedication. If your listeners don’t hear effort in your story, they will quickly become indifferent.
While there isn’t a need for fake details, the challenges make stories much more than a highlight reel.
To whom will you be sharing your experiences? If you think that you need to be ashamed of the details of a hunt, you’re mistaken. However, let’s say you’re telling a story to someone indifferent to hunting or someone who is completely opposed to it. The details of that story are still essential! It’s vital to be truthful while also taking the path of utmost respect for the game pursued and admitting your faults when they happen.
I’ve spoken to people who were entirely against hunting. Often, those people make sideways comments to elicit a reaction. They may get loud about their disapproval to banter with you about what is wrong with hunting. Or maybe they even want to poke fun at how many grip and grin photos they scroll past on social media in November.
Taking the time to engage that person is often worth the effort. When you take the path of respect for the animals you hunt, those words you share will be impactful. Those words usually leave a person in opposition, saying, “I always thought hunters were just people who wanted to threaten animals. What you’ve shown me is different than what I’ve encountered.”
Whoever you are, the public is watching, and it matters. I’ve often heard it said hunters poke holes in their own boat. If we as hunters don’t show respect for our sport, it may be gone very soon.
Not every hunting story has a happy ending. In reality, most hunting stories don’t. At least not by how most people measure them.
Lately, hunting trends have favored the quality of experience rather than coming home with a kill alone. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it is draining to go home empty-handed time after time. It is an extra sweet victory to bring home venison. But even when your hunt doesn’t put meat on the table, a good tale will bring smiles. An account that displays a passion for all parts of a story is what hunting needs. Even if that means the result isn’t a giant animal riding home in the back of your truck.