Hunting is hard. Flat out. It takes patience, courage, and grit. More often than not you are left with an unfilled tag in your pocket and a long walk back to the truck. So why do it? Why put in so much time, money and effort if percentages do not go in your favor? I know why I do it. I do it because the effort it takes to successfully harvest an animal is unlike any other feeling in life. Because with no risk there can be no reward. It is what makes hunting and harvesting your own meat so special.
Being new to hunting, I constantly second guess myself and have doubt about if I am doing the right thing, especially since I never had a mentor to bounce questions off of. It is my weakness. It is the internal battle that I struggle with when hunting. Have you ever had questions about what others would do in certain situations? Maybe you catch yourself not staying in the game mentally. I know I often do. I find myself double guessing a move or a plan of attack when I hunt. Whether you are new or experienced, hunting can be frustrating and defeating.
This series is meant to be a way to inspire, educate and motivate you when it comes to hunting. Hopefully the advice and insight shared by our guests can help you feel like you are not alone in your struggle against the wild, while you build confidence in your chase.
WBC: What is your name?
Mark: Mark Huelsing
WBC: Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Mark: I currently live within a few miles of where I grew up in Missouri.
WBC: What is your day job?
Mark: I work for backcountry hunting pack manufacturer Exo Mtn Gear. I don’t really have a title, but you could say it is “Doer of Things” or something like that. I primarily manage marketing, technology, and communications.
WBC: Do you have any family or pets?
Mark: I am married and have two kids. My daughter is 10 and my son is 7.
WBC: How and why did you get started into hunting?
Mark: I first started hunting small game as a kid. My grandpa was an outdoorsmen and exposed me to hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. He mounted the first squirrel I killed, which I still have to this day. “Why do you have a squirrel in your house?” is a question I have heard many times.
WBC: Did you have a hunting mentor? What did you learn from them and or what did you want or wished to learn from them?
Mark: Although my Grandpa got me started hunting at a young age, I didn’t truly become a hunter until later in life. At that time, my Grandpa’s health was failing, so we didn’t get to spend much time hunting together. I became much more involved and dedicated to hunting when I started bowhunting, and the process of learning to bowhunt was something I did not have a mentor to help me with.
WBC: If you did not have a mentor, how did you learn to hunt?
Mark: Because I didn’t have a mentor to teach me about bowhunting, I learned through a lot of trial, error, and research. At that time, there wasn’t as much helpful information online as there is now, but random forums and other internet resources helped me tremendously. Nevertheless, learning about something and successfully doing something are two very different things. I have made, and continue to make a lot of mistakes (AKA, “learning opportunities”) on every hunt.
WBC: What has been your favorite hunt? Why?
Mark: The first successful elk hunt I was a part of is something that will never be topped. Myself and another rookie hunter from the midwest went to Colorado, and I was able to call-in a bull that he shot at less than 10 yards. It wasn’t that easy. There were a lot of setbacks in that hunt before it all came together. But putting in the work together and then sharing success together for the first time is something that was truly special. Oh, and the horrendous 6-mile packout we did in one trip with that bull made some permanent scars (or “memories”) in our minds as well.
WBC: What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to hunting?
Mark: It is hard to pick just one. One of my biggest struggles is over-thinking it. I am analytical by nature, so sometimes I think too much and act too little. I need to be intentional about avoiding “paralysis by analysis”.
WBC: Our strengths can also be our weaknesses. What are your weaknesses that can inhibit you on your hunts?
Mark: That analytical mind is a strength and a weakness. I think through things a lot. I can also lose confidence while wavering between different scenarios or tactics that keep me from moving forward in a specific direction. I am learning that hunting is as much about instinct as it is about information.
WBC: What piece of gear can you not hunt without?
Mark: A weapon ;-). In all seriousness, though, (and this sounds very self-serving coming from someone that works for a pack company) a good pack and good boots are the two things that enable me to hunt more effectively on each and every hunt. It doesn’t matter if I am chasing elk in the Rockies, headed to Alaska for Caribou, or hunting whitetails in the midwest — a comfortable pack system will enable me to carry my gear, and then hopefully pack my animal out. And good boots enable me to take that next step, climb that next ridge, and hunt hard day-after-day.
WBC: What is your favorite place to hunt and or species?
Mark: I’m not sure that it gets any better than being in the Rockies chasing screaming bulls. I’m trying to prove myself wrong, though, as I expand my hunting into new areas and species.
WBC: What is one piece of advice you would have liked to have or known when you first started hunting?
Mark: Always enjoy the process. Always. Even when it is difficult. Even when the conditions don’t cooperate. Even when the animals are hard to find. Focus on enjoying the process and don’t get caught up in the results.
WBC: What is your social media account handles or website?
We want to thank Mark for sharing his insight and thoughts. If you want to know more about Mark and what he does, be sure to follow along on his journey by checking out his Instagram account. While you are at it, go subscribe to the Hunt Backcountry Podcast that he hosts.
If you enjoyed reading the article or can think of anyone that could benefit from the insight given, please share it with others. It is “OUR” job to continue the growth of the hunting and outdoor community. Be sure to invite someone to start hunting with you. You never know what type of impact it may have for them and their life. Remember, mentorship is conservation and you cannot out give good.
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