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?
Dan: Dan Ness
WBC: Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Dan: Minnesota. Born and raised here.
WBC: What is your day job?
Dan: Sales Manager for Pella Windows and Doors in Minneapolis.
WBC: Do you have any family or pets?
Dan: Yes, I am recently married to my beautiful wife, Karla.
WBC: How and why did you get started into hunting?
Dan: My Dad started taking my brother and I out hunting when I was 4 and my brother was 3. It got into our blood at a very young age. To this day, my favorite hunts are the ones where I am hunting with my dad and brother. My earliest memories in life are hunting memories.
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?
Dan: My Dad and My Grandpa. My Grandpa taught me how to be patient. I always had a hard time sitting in a deer stand. I would sit for maybe an hour and then I would get down and start walking around trying to find a deer. He still gives me a hard time about staying in the stand and being patient. These days I can sit all day and I’ve had significantly more encounters with whitetails. The lessons I’ve learned from my dad are countless. He has taught me everything. One major thing I learned from my dad was ethics. When it comes to hunting, we obey all hunting laws and regulations. There is no gray area with my dad. Its black and white. He taught me the value of life, taking an ethical shot, and becoming skilled with whatever weapon we were using.
WBC: What has been your favorite hunt? Why?
Dan: Any hunt with my dad and brother. We have done 2 archery elk hunts that will forever be ingrained into my soul. Why? The very first hunt was our first elk hunt together. I had been a guide for several years at that point in time and this was the first year I got to share the September elk woods with my dad and brother. We all tagged out on bulls by day 3 of our hunt. This last fall we did a repeat of that trip and I watched my dad take down a bull of a lifetime with his bow and I also got to call in a beautiful bull to 10yds for my brother, which he drilled. Hard to comment on all the details of those specific hunts. The three of us have been hunting together for so many years and with life changes we are not able to hunt together as much which is why when we get a trip together its is significantly more meaningful.
WBC: What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to hunting?
Dan: Hindsight. When something on a hunt doesn’t work out, you mess up the opportunity or if you would have done this or that. Also, wounded or unrecovered animals. Thankfully this is not typical or frequent but sometimes it happens with archery and rifle equipment. You never forget those hunts and it just plain sucks. There is no closure and there is never anyway of knowing. Hindsight is brutal especially in these situations. The only way through it is to learn, get better and re-engage. I also know that God does not waste anything. He utilizes our weaknesses and makes us stronger for His Glory. The bible talks about how he provides for all of His creation. If a wounded or unrecovered animal ends up being a source of food for another creature I believe that it’s God’s way of taking care of his creation. God is the only hope and closure I can get on a tough situation. Which is true for all applications of life.
WBC: Our strengths can also be our weaknesses. What are your weaknesses that can inhibit you on your hunts?
Dan: I over-analyze everything. Sometimes you just have to make a move and go with it. I usually try to follow my gut instincts but sometimes my mind overrides it. I have had moments on whitetail hunts where I will try to decide which stand to sit in and I will have a debate in my head for sometimes 30 minutes to an hour. When instead of debating it, I should get in the tree and hunt! That’s why I love elk hunting so much, you typically have minimal time to make a decision and you just have to go.
WBC: What piece of gear can you not hunt without?
Dan: My Swarovski 10 x42 binoculars. My most invaluable tool for guiding and hunting. I bought them in 2009 and they are still in perfect condition.
WBC: What is your favorite place to hunt and or species?
Dan: Colorado Elk or Kansas Whitetails.
WBC: What is one piece of advice you would have liked to have or known when you first started hunting?
Dan: This is going to sound cliche but, it is not about the kill. Getting wrapped up in filling a tag, shooting a limit, or getting a bunch of likes on instagram will take the enjoyment out of the moment, the adventure and the pursuit. These are not bad things, but if this is where your self worth comes from and the main reason for your hunt, you will be unfulfilled and it will rob you of your joy. Soak up the time in the woods or on the mountains. There are no guarantees that this will last forever. Give thanks to God for this beautiful creation that we get to enjoy.
WBC: What is your social media account handles or website?
Dan: Instagram: @d_ness247
We want to thank Dan for sharing his insight and thoughts. If you want to know more about Dan and what he does, be sure to follow along on his journey by checking out his social media account, as well as listen to episode 7 on The Soulful Hunter Podcast where he talks elk hunting and much more.
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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