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The elements of a good hunting partner are not the collision of two atomic atoms. It is something that needs to come out of a very careful incubator, some have suggested “findahuntingpartner.com” but I am afraid it is not that easy. There are properties, assets, personalities and much more that need to be considered. A good hunting partner is like a good marriage partner, it must be cultivated out of a few references, interviews and maybe even a no-committal trial run.
Most of us started our walk in the woods with our dad or a mentor. At someplace along life’s outdoor journey we amalgamated to a hunting partner of our own. But it doesn’t just happen overnight. Here are a few important properties of The Making of a Hunting Partner.
Style of hunting can make or break a partnership. Finding someone who likes ground stalking, tree stands or spending hours glassing the hill side will help. Some partners like to go their separate ways and meet back later. Depending on the terrain and species, I like to stalk alone and call for help when a moose shakes the ground. Style can be negotiable and developed but at some point partners need to have compatible styles. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife is a road hunter and I am the ground stalker. We have been married for over three decades and partnered on many road hunts.
Physicality needs to be compatible. If one partner can chase a sheep and the other one can’t climb, incompatibility will develop. This is where many partnerships are forged out of age groups. Your dad may have taught you how to pull the slack out but it will be your colleague that will probably sustain your hunting skills. Young men with size two hats and 44 coats are a great asset to seasoned hunters who can’t give chase like they once did. At some time the younger hunters will want to launch out into the deep on their own. In the making of a good hunting partner, you will want someone who is equipped physically as you are.
Financial compatible is often over looked. It is called a hunting partnership because you have commonality of assets and abilities. I have seen many partnerships bust up over a lack of financial compatibility. Financial unequally yoked might be navigational for a hunt or two but after a while it begins to breed contempt. Get a head of the problem. Don’t let one partner fund the hunt. It really needs to be a win-win partnership for both. If it is not, your headed toward a cool iceberg. Keep finances right up front when planning the hunt. If finances are the number one reason marriages implode then hunting partners can implode the same way.
Ethics have compatibility as well. If a hunting partner packs a shovel to bury evidence, stop and abort the hunt. No breach of hunting regulations is worth the trophy. Your good name and testimony is on the line when your partner is willing to bend the boundaries. You jeopardize all your privileges and sometimes your equipment. Regulations are the law of the land, follow them and hunt with someone that values them the same as you do. If not you will definitely be guilty by association.
Time away from work and family is another element in the making of a good hunting partner. You’ll know it the first time you start planning a trip.
Finally, compatibility of the little things. The bottom line is that you need to have a partner that you enjoy spending time with. I have hunkered down in a ripped up tent with winds nearly 100 mph on a sheep hunt from hell with my hunting partner Sam. When a 800 lb Grizzly helicoptered and started after us, I was glad Sam was by my side (believing the bear would pick an Italian over a Scott). We have prayed together, sweat together, broke down many times and learned how to laugh about it the next week. The little things might be food, eating habits, hunting times and even snoring. None of these things are insurmountable just need to be navigated.
The making of a good hunting partner is essential to a successful hunt. My hope is not just that you find a good partner but perhaps more importantly that you be a good partner.
JD is a third generation Alaskan outdoorsman.
He serves as the Statewide Chaplain for Alaska Dept. of Corrections giving oversight to 13 institutions and 1500 volunteers.
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He also serves as an Executive Presbyter and is the founder of Alaska Men’s Network. He is married to Renee and they have two daughters that love the outdoors.