October 20, 2015
Growing up, I always had a faint desire to hunt. It was nothing strong enough to convince my parents to sign me up for gun safety, or ask to make the annual pilgrimage up to deer camp with the uncles on my mother’s side. My dad has never been a hunter, nor was his father before him — both more likely to be found behind a book than a duck blind. I guess I just followed suit. Still, the intrigue has carried into my late twenties. Quiet, but present.
Only a week ago, my girlfriend’s brother, Sven, who lives off the grid in Tofte, Minn., with his wife and one-year-old, asked if I wanted to join him in a grouse hunt during the visit we had planned for over the weekend. Without hesitation, I accepted.
Before I knew it, I was in Sven’s 20-acre backyard – shotgun in hand and hunter’s apprentice license in pocket – shooting at a multitude of targets we had pulled from his recycling bin. It was loud, it was fun, it was very “up north” of us.
After learning the basics, it was time to hit the trail in search of dinner. I was excited, and admittedly, a bit nervous. Empty two-liters are one thing. A moving grouse was an entirely different ball game. Not to mention the moral implications of potentially taking an animal’s life, but that’s a different blog post in itself.
As time went by and we walked further down the trail, I started to feel a tinge of discouragement. I could also sense that Sven was starting to give up hopes of sighting a bird. Yet, just as he mentioned turning back to the car, we stirred two grouse from the path into the woods! With great excitement and caution we followed after. I entered where we thought the first grouse landed, and Sven went a bit further down the path. My instructions were to take the shot if I had it, and if not, perhaps we’d flush it out towards Sven and he’d get the chance.
As the woods got thicker I began to doubt we’d relocate the bird. Then, there it was, perched maybe twenty feet away. I raised my gun, popped the safety, took aim, and POOF! Sven came running over, smile stretching from ear to ear. “You get it!?” he asked. “Yeah, man. I did.”
Looking at the dead bird, Sven started to chuckle. “You certainly did! Let’s see that high-five, bud! This is great, but next time maybe aim a little higher – you pretty much blew off all of the meat. But, hey, we’ll be able to get something out of it.”
Looking back at my first hunt, I’m reminded of the importance of trying new things, learning, not giving up and the importance of growth. All of this carries over into my life as a marketer as well. Just as Sven taught me to shoot a shotgun, I look to learn what I can from my colleagues, my clients and the industry as a whole. It’s important to approach clients with new, fresh ideas. It’s important to offer new strategies, and not to throw in the towel when facing adversity. Sometimes we might be so lucky to “tag the bird on our first shot,” but maybe “we aim a little higher” the next time. And as the great Wayne Gretzky – a different kind of hunter – once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”