By Johnny Mack
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?
Jeff: Jeff Lusk
WBC: Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Jeff: I have lived in Western Washington my entire life.
WBC: What is your day job?
Jeff: My day job is a Metals Recycler. My family and I work closely together recycling various metals and precious metals.
WBC: Do you have any family or pets?
Jeff: I have a beautiful fiance who pushes me to follow the things that I love. We are about as opposite as two people could get with me being a hunter and her being a vegetarian, but we have found a lot of similar interests that keep us going strong! I have two little girls who are 8 and 6 years old now and growing more and more by the day. We are also blessed with lots of dog fur in the house with 4 dogs. One goofy English Setter, two needy Cocker Spaniels and an older feisty Chihuahua.
WBC: How and why did you get started into hunting?
Jeff: I’ve always grown up with a fascination for the outdoors. My family didn’t hunt, but they did support me wanting to do so at a young age. When I was 10, I took my hunters safety and passed. My father and I dabbled a little bit with some blacktail hunting but it wasn’t until 6 years later when I was able to drive myself that I started taking trips with friends or by myself. I worked so I could hunt. And every off day that I was able to sneak into the woods or on the water I would.
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?
Jeff: I look at a lot of people as mentors, whether it’s in a little or big way. In the beginning my buddy Rj was a huge help on teaching me the ways of duck hunting and dog training. I didn’t really have a big game mentor and learned a lot of lessons on my own. Fast forward to present day and I’ve been VERY lucky to have spent numerous hunts with someone that I look up to more than most. Ryan Lampers is about as good as it gets in the public land mountains and to learn from a guy like himself is a huge reason for any success I have.
WBC: What has been your favorite hunt? Why?
Jeff: In 2018 I drew a moose tag and decided to tackle it solo. I went into country that I’ve never stepped foot into before with very little moose hunting knowledge. This was a hunt that I really wanted to do alone for myself. There was a little something inside of me that wanted to say I killed a moose in one of the toughest units with a low density of animals, and did it solo. Covering country, embracing bad weather, living out of my backpack in wolf and bear infested country probably wouldn’t be a welcoming picture to most hunters. Here I am today though still alive and well. Mentally it has made me 10x stronger than I was before and nobody will ever be able to take that away from me.
WBC: What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to hunting?
Jeff: Being able to stay calm just moments before you pull the trigger on an animal is a very difficult thing to do. I often feel like if I don’t take the shot now, that animal will be gone forever. Taking that extra second, or extra minute can be the difference in notching your tag or not. Often times we have way more time to get setup on an animal than we like to believe.
WBC: Our strengths can also be our weaknesses. What are your weaknesses that can inhibit you on your hunts?
Jeff: A weakness of mine is trying to take a shot quicker than I need to. An undisturbed animal will often give us multiple shot opportunities and it’s something I need to work on.
WBC: What piece of gear can you not hunt without?
Jeff: This list is bigger than just one piece of gear so I will list a couple that aren’t the typical boots, backpack and optics. My Garmin InReach has become a very essential piece of gear that not only gives everyone back home a little bit of peace but for myself as well. Being able to send a message to my daughters, fiance or even a message to your hunting buddy letting them know how your day was can be a very relaxing “at home” feeling. Another piece of gear that I will always have regardless of the weather is a puffy jacket. A puffy jacket adds so much to my comfort levels and keeps me waking up early and staying up late on those chilly mornings and nights.
WBC: What is your favorite place to hunt and or species?
Jeff: Give me big mountains with a lot of places for a critter to hide. Add in some views above treeline that less than 1% of people even know exist and I don’t care if it’s a big muley buck, a bugling bull or even a chukar running the cliffed out rock ledges and I am a happy man!
WBC: What is one piece of advice you would have liked to have or known when you first started hunting?
Jeff: Some of the most enjoyable hunts are the ones that suck the most. Don’t let filling a tag cloud your vision by enjoying what is right in front of you each minute you are out there. Explore as much of that country as you can while you spend your time in the woods, and NEVER, I repeat NEVER leave a hunt early because it only takes one second for something magical to happen in the woods and you never know when that may be. Learn to truly embrace the suck.
WBC: What is your social media account handles or website?
Jeff: You can find me on Instagram as JeffLusky.
We want to thank Jeff for sharing his insight and thoughts. If you want to know more about Jeff and what he does, be sure to follow along on his journey by checking out his Instagram account.
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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