I was shooting in an archery tournament near Phenix City, Alabama this weekend in which thousands competed in various classifications in order to test their skills against one another. After the first day I met one person who was shooting his first national tournament and we talked about his experience. He commented he was satisfied with the results and was anxious for the second day of competition. His score placed him in the top 25 on the day.
While talking with a few other competitors, we began discussing various hunting trips we have been on. One guy had a picture of a monster whitetail taken in southern Ohio. He spoke of how he had paid good money for the hunt, but he was satisfied considering the size of the deer and the overall experience. It easily outdid anything he could have hunted in his home state of Mississippi.
Another spoke of the fearsome hog he had taken in Georgia. He had patterned a good size buck and knew it would trail in behind a couple of does and a fawn. For some reason, the does never came in that one particular evening. The trail camera doesn’t lie, and they had been consistent, so he figured something was amiss. Then, what he first thought was a bear, caught his vision from the stand. As it came closer he realized it was a hog, about 300 pounds. He unleashed an arrow and the hog screamed as it darted away. Another hunter helped him track it down and he gave the hog to the other hunter. He was not happy with the hunt. He wanted the buck and this was one of his few chances to hunt that parcel of land.
I have met several people over the years who were ecstatic with their trophy, right up until the point where the score was not what they expected, or someone else was successful with something a little bigger. Then, all of a sudden they were no longer satisfied with the hunt, the results of the hunt, or the animal hanging on the wall.
I have also met plenty of people over the years who relished the experience of the hunt, or the one moment when man and beast met for the first time. They appreciated the small things whether successful or not. In fact, their definition of success varied from the dissatisfied ones. Their definition was much simpler and yet they seemed to be happier because of it.
One of the guys in my group in the competition led after day one. He shot consistently and accurately all day. Several of us kept close for most of the day, including myself. I had a stretch of four targets that ultimately dropped me from contention. Another went through the same stretch of targets and dropped him from contention also. I rebounded nicely, he struggled even going into day two. The leader, well, you could see the pressure mounting from one target to the next. On day two, he had one bad shot. The next target, he threw another bad shot. A couple of us in the group pulled to the side, and reminded him not to worry. His lead was strong, and he was out there for fun anyway. He relaxed and proceeded to shoot well the rest of the way. Ultimately, he won the Pro/Am in the Hunter class. He was satisfied.
We were all satisfied.