I’ve been an avid, albeit lousy hunter since I was a teen. Every season I pay up, gear up, and hike up the side of a mountain to look for deer. I haven’t been very successful, but that hasn’t stopped me from learning a lot about hunting as a sport.
When I entered the job market I was quick to realize the similarities between hunting for a job and hunting for game.
1. You might very well miss a sure shot.
One of my first seasons out, I was walking down a path on a windy afternoon. Less than 50 yards in front of me, a buck crossed the path at a brick walk. I bore down and took a shot, but missed him completely. It was an open, broadside shot- the sort practiced on targets all the time…but I missed.
As I hunted for jobs, there have been at least two that I thought I was a damn sure shot for. Both times I lost out. The jobs seemed to have me in mind as I applied and worked for them, but the moment the shot was made, the target was gone, and I was left looking for a new deer. Or job. Which instance am I talking about again?
2. Anticipatory highs, and crushing disappointment abound in both worlds.
Last season, my state enacted an antler restriction- basically stating that bucks needed to have a MINIMUM of three points on one side before they could be harvested- to prevent the young bucks from being thinned out. Opening day, I came to an open field where a massive animal stood with his back to me and head down in the grass. I sighted in on him, waiting to see his head and count the points. When he finally lifted his head, He had one spike on his left, and a measly two on his right. I couldn’t take him.
I’ve come close to a few jobs that I’ve literally dreamed about doing. Jobs that would set get my family on the right track and out of the financial rut we’ve been in since I was laid off. Come close enough as to see the job, only to have the points not be high enough and I need to walk away empty handed.
3. You spend time chasing dead ends.
Another season, I was out looking for deer, and I kept hearing something ahead of me, it sounded all the world like something large walking through the trees. I stalked the sounds for nearly half an hour knowing that there must be a monster buck in those trees somewhere. Yet no matter how close I got, the sound never got any closer. I finally had an acorn fall on my shoulder- and I realized that the entire time, I’d been listening to nuts falling into the dry leaves on the forest floor.
I’ve dedicated time and energy into preparing for jobs that never materialized. An open and exciting prospect turns out to be a mislead, either it dries up, or the company/agency I’ve been looking at had someone else in mind before the job was even posted, and my efforts were completely wasted.
4. My big fat mouth ruins everything.
I went hunting grouse one season. I moved through a stand of hemlocks and had to cough. So I did. The instant I made the sound, a bird flushed ahead of me, out of shot range, but close enough for me to realize that I’d messed up the stalk.
Job hunting, I’ve said the wrong things to or about the wrong people, and have paid for it. I don’t wish to dwell too heavily on that.
5. What you do bag can sometimes be a disappointment.
The very first deer I harvested, it was sunup on opening day. Through the trees I catch a glimpse of a deer with antlers, and I sighted in on him. I couldn’t count his points, but I knew he was a male and therefore legal (this was before the point restrictions) I debated- do I take what I know I can get, or wait for something better to come along this season. What if I don’t see anything else? I took the shot, and when I went to count the points…he was a spike. A total of two points. Two. I got what I wanted- a deer- but he was nothing exciting at all.
I’ve taken jobs strictly because I wanted work, and found myself regretting it at times. I got what I wanted- work- but nothing that I wanted to hitch to forever, or anything I could be proud of when I sat down with friends for a beer.
6. The trophy is elusive.
That massive deer, that perfect job…they’re both out there somewhere. I spend enough time looking, I might even find it…but truth be told, I don’t know where or even how to look anymore.