After 25 years of bowhunting, my perspective on hunting has changed drastically. I absolutely acknowledge I am far more likely to be able to shoot a deer than even 10 years ago. Part of that is the land I hunt but more of it is the experience I have in chasing the animal. I've gone into this year with an early filled bow tag. Rare & only done that a handful of years. Many years, including recent years, I've eaten at least SOME tags. Years before then, eaten MANY tags. Here's my thoughts or ramblings for tonight..... Before things really get good, with the next 3 weeks of amazing hunting upon us, think about this a little. Is your season a success only if you fill a tag? Of course not. Is your season a failure if you don't fill it? Of course not. Is it more fun to tag a buck that you know, 100%, is the beast you've wanted to get a crack at? ABSOLUTELY. With time- speaking to the younger folks here - those of you who "worry" or have "pressure" to fill a tag will go way down. With years. NOT due to your passion to hunt, but taking in the fact that the hunt is vastly more than just shooting a buck. It's the time off. It's the peace. It's a "VACATION" for many, including myself. It's seeing things you don't see 40+ weeks of the year. It's things you'll remember FOREVER. It's learning for seasons ahead. WORDS don't make the "inner-pressure" one might feel go away BUT, at least hear them.... Give it your best but realize, your enjoyment, time in woods, relaxing &/or hunting hard - is a huge part of the experience. Time spent with buddies. If your day comes this fall - AMAZING!!!!!! If it doesn't - there will be another season before you know it and your day will come. Heck, how many years a "buck slipped by".... I ate a tag & a year later I shot the same buck, but he was bigger - that's been an experience I've had many years. There's fundamentally nothing one could have told me when I was younger to chill out on the "inner pressure" to fill my tag. But, at the same time, I don't recall anyone really telling me that either. Relax. Enjoy. It's a wild ride & many many seasons ahead, some good, some more challenging. I will bet a nickle I will eat a tag sandwich this year. I've eaten several in one year in the past & looking back - that's ok & doesn't bother me a bit. I KNOW many on here will have dream seasons, shoot dandies, have a blast. I know some (Some of this is luck, roll of the dice & just the year you're dealt) - will have challenging years. Those same hunters could have 180 degree different experiences next season. ENJOY. RELAX. TAKE IT IN. These next few weeks are a rarity. I wish you all the best... happy, safe, fun, exciting & challenging hunting. Remember, all GOOD & GREAT THINGS ARE CHALLENGING!!!! Why we do this and why it's rewarding the times it does work out. Expectations: be prepared for challenges, frustrations, lots of hours/days in stand, ups & downs. Part of it. No matter what, I hope you have an awesome experience - tagged out or eating a tag. Good luck! What's your thoughts?