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?
Rob: Rob Keating
WBC: Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Rob: I grew up in Enumclaw Washington, and after a few years of traveling around we decided that’s where we wanted to raise our family.
WBC: What is your day job?
Rob: I’m currently an assembly mechanic for a small company called Boeing.
WBC: Do you have any family or pets?
Rob: I just celebrated 10 years of marital bliss with my beautiful bride, and we have 2 lovely girls and a knuckle head boxer.
WBC: How and why did you get started into hunting?
Rob: My first hunt was when I was 12 years old. It was a late season muzzleloader hunt with my dad. It’s was a super cold winter and we didn’t see a single elk, and I’ll never forget the experience. Flash forward 16 years, I had just gotten out of the military in September of 2013 but I still had an itch for adventure. I picked up my friends bow one day after work, and I was hooked. I jumped in with both feet. I harvested my first deer 2 months later, and have been blessed with at least one successful hunt every year since.
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?
Rob: I wouldn’t say I had a single hunting mentor, but I have worked very hard to surround myself with very knowledgeable men and women. I have learned a ton from the great members at my local archery club (Flint Tip Archers) in Enumclaw. I read and research constantly and I am always asking questions to better myself. I do everything I can to help others along the way, and in teaching I have definitely grown myself.
WBC: If you did not have a mentor, how did you learn to hunt?
Rob: With technology and information so easily accessible, I can get most of my questions answered with podcasts and a little online research. I definitely have a few guys that I can call on to bounce ideas off of, or get feed back from. But a lot of what I have done is trial and error. Keeping the ideas and tactics that work, and not being shy about changing things up when I’m falling short of success.
WBC: What has been your favorite hunt? Why?
Rob: I have had a somewhat short, but very fortunate hunting carrier so far. I was fortunate enough to hunt Caribou in Northern Alaska in 2016, where popping ground squirrels and fly fishing side streams as a herd of Muskox were mixing it up during their rut on the bank just behind me was pretty special. But my absolute favorite hunt so far has been my 12 day solo hunt in 2017. I had planned it out for 3 separate backpack hunts of 4 days each. That was my first opportunity to fully immerse myself in my hunt with no distractions and nothing else to interfere with my task at hand. On that hunt, I had my first taste of mule deer spot and stalk hunting and the knowledge I gained from being self sufficient for 12 days has given me a solid foundation to build and grow as a hunter.
WBC: What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to hunting?
Rob: I seem to be in a constant battle between patience and aggression. This year being more aggressive has paid off, but I feel that it has cost me a few opportunities in the past. Being too patient has also kept me from harvesting animals. It’s a constant battle to read the situation and know what course of action is appropriate for each situation.
WBC: Our strengths can also be our weaknesses. What are your weaknesses that can inhibit you on your hunts?
Rob: I am very diligent in my preparation for each hunting season. I am constantly shooting at the range, training (i.e. hiking, running, lifting) and studying maps and checking out new areas every chance I get. My constant need to search and move forward makes it a hard habit to turn off when I am in the field during the season. I tend to move more than I should. I have a hard time sitting and glassing a basin when I know there are 3 more basins to the north, and 2 drainages to the east. I am constantly telling myself to slow down, take my time and let the hunt develop.
WBC: What piece of gear can you not hunt without?
Rob: A good pair of boots is hard to beat. I will put on 12-14 miles on a normal day, and find myself doing 6+ miles on a slower day. I move a lot, uphill, down hill, and side hill so a solid pair of boots are vital to my mobility.
WBC: What is your favorite place to hunt and or species?
Rob: My absolute favorite hunt is mountain mule deer. I like to be in the mountain pines and knowing that I can climb and get away from everyone else is a huge selling point for me. Once I’m in the mountains I love the chess match that plays out between me with my bow and the deer on the hills.
WBC: What is one piece of advice you would have liked to have or known when you first started hunting?
Rob: It can be very addictive. For me it’s not a September to November thing. I am constantly tinkering with my setup, checking out new areas online and on the ground. Hunting can be a big or a little part of your life, and for me it wasn’t a choice. I was engulfed with the lifestyle and continue to dive deeper as I develop my skill set and branch out to new ones.
WBC: What is your social media account handles or website?
Rob: You can find me @broadhead_rob_ on Instagram. It is a personal account so I try and include my friends family training and hunting.
We want to thank Rob for sharing his insight and thoughts. If you want to know more about Rob 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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