When enthusiasm isn’t enough


Nothing great has been accomplished without enthusiasm. Emerson wrote that, but it’s been used by coaches, motivational speakers etc., because it states the importance of the way you go about things.

The thing about enthusiasm is that it doesn’t matter how ready you are to “slay kings” (before the closure) or bag a big buck. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. It’s not like basketball where you can dedicate yourself to getting on the floor for loose balls, and playing lights-out defense. You know what to expect in that forum. With fishing, you don’t.

Two weeks ago I wrote about Brennan Koeller who was up here putting on a weightlifting clinic in Ketchikan. He won the U-25 weightlifting National Championship for his weight class. He’s all about heart and enthusiasm. He can lift the weight, or he can’t. That’s the deal.

Naturally, after he hooked a 30-pound king that broke the rod (we still landed it), he was stoked to get another. His weightlifting coach, Chuy, was ready for his. Enthusiasm galore. No more kings.

I tagged along to film my buddy Jesse’s quest for an alpine deer. Clouds and rain descended and blocked visibility and damped enthusiasm but we were still excited. Deer don’t disappear, you just sometimes don’t see them no matter how excited you are. He didn’t even get a chance to draw.

The night before the first day I could hunt federal land on Prince of Wales, I went up my favorite mountain. I made camp, then walked around some alpine to see what was left after two weeks of local hunting. I looked down and saw another truck parked next to mine. I wasn’t too worried about it, though you do always worry about hunting the same mountain. It’s not like in California where you know you will be near a bunch of other people, which is why there is a requirement to wear hunter orange.

Anyway, I was stoked. My favorite mountain. But there were clouds. There was rain. And there was someone else on the mountain. Somewhere. I aborted my plan based on where I thought they might be camping and, driven by the notion that all I needed was the will to make it happen and it would, I went to a totally new part of the mountain and found nothing. Just tracks with no bucks standing in them.

After a long, wet day I retreated to camp, packed everything up and left.

Maybe the biggest problem is not fish or woodland creatures failing to understanding their role in our plans, but that these bright spots are the reason we live here. If you’re a college basketball fan, nothing gets better than March. It’s an entire month of, well, madness. For many Alaskans, August is a best-of-seven Super Bowl series of blacktail deer hunting. The brutal hikes, the camping, the Northern Lights during midnight…potty breaks, and of course, a set of velvet horns to talk about while sharing a meal.

Add in the rivers being filled with cohos and it’s an absolute outdoor bonanza. The last month where you can maybe hope for nice, warm weather. From here on out, it’s “Nice for September” or “Beautiful…for this time of year.”

It doesn’t always go as planned, and there’s really nothing you can do about it.

You can get really, really, really excited, but that won’t guarantee results. If success in the outdoors was dependent merely on how obsessively excited you could make yourself, then it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

Without rain-soaked failures, it’s hard to put appropriate value on the sun-soaked successes.
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