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Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Not always a winning but always a winner

                  I have been told that your response to winning says a lot about your character.  Growing up as a decent wrestler in rural Montana, winning became a big part of my career. I won state championships in Freestyle and Greco Roman, made it to regional, and national tournaments, went undefeated throughout my middle school career and wasn’t a half bad high school wrestler. Winning became so much of who I was that no matter who I stepped on the mat with, somewhere deep inside I knew I could beat them, even if I didn’t. My wrestling coach still tells stories about the most “arrogant son of a bitch that he ever coached because he knew he would beat whoever he went up against.” I was consumed by the feeling of the win. In fact, I was so consumed by the win that losing was not something that I would have considered for myself as having any part of my persona.


                This winning persona engulfed my personality so much that I didn’t know how to lose. Obviously, I did lose but what I mean is that emotionally, I was ill equipped to handle losses. This carried over to every part of my life. The part that most bothers me is that of hunting and fishing. You see, as basic and stupid as it sounds, I didn’t realize that there was a lesson to be learned with a loss. Idiotic right? Well sure, I knew that if you lose you just work harder, but what was the real lesson?

           

      I would go out on hunts or fishing trips and get down on myself because I may not have seen, killed, or caught anything. I completely saw this as a reflection of who and what I was as an outdoorsman. It wasn’t until years later that I had that ah ha moment that hit me like a baseball bat. This moment happened when I was sitting on top of a mountain after a brutal climb during archery season. I had not heard a bugle or seen any sign. I started to have those old loser feelings come over me. Then, when I looked up the view completely took every bad thought out of my head. It was at that moment that I realized why it is exactly that I want to be an outdoorsman.  It was for moments like that.


                Is it a great feeling to win? Absolutely! But it is not just about the accomplishment of successfully filling your tag. It is about drinking in the full spectrum of the experience of the outdoors. It is about the lessons learned along the way. It is about the fortitude that it takes to get up that mountain and the will to keep going after you have not seen anything. The pursuit and the journey that keeps us going as outdoorsman does not come from the blood on our arrows, but the blood in our hearts that bleeds only for the excitement, beauty, and lessons that we learn and experience along the way. Sometimes, what seems like torture at the time becomes our fondest memories. We live for these memories and these moments. For it is these moments that define our life and our true personality. After coming to this realization I found that losing is now not such a bad thing and in fact is sometimes enjoyable. 


                So remember, for all of you that are eating tag soup at the moment, the will to win is a great thing but dealing with the loss is what truly defines you.  

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