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The Makings of a Hunting Partner

Hunting partners bond over time like lug nuts on an old truck wheel. The hours on the road, exposure to heat and cold, and the grit and grime from countless trips cement them together as long as they fit one another to start with. Considering the way partners weld, it’s worth some thought on what kind of partner you want.

Take me, for instance. I’m the perfect hunting partner for an overnight trip in bear country. That’s not because I stand guard all night or have special skills in handling bears. On the contrary, it’s because I snore. Not only do I snore, but I sound much like a grizzly snoring; in fact, a very large grizzly. So it seems to keep all the other grizzlies away. Either that or they are scared off by the commotion of my hunting partners banging pans together most of the night trying to wake me up.

New Call-to-actionSince not everyone hunts in bear country, you may need other attributes in your hunting partner. Here are a few things to think about:

1. Finding a hunting partner with the right disposition

For starters, what disposition do you want in a partner?  Do you want the quiet type or a person who tells you stories and keeps you energized on a long drive?

It’s sort of like the two fellows talking in the gun shop about one of their buddies.

“You know, Ol’ Sam never says a word,” remarked the first hunter.

“I know what you mean,” says the second. “We can drive for hours and I have to keep looking over to know he’s awake.”

The two hunters go on complaining about Sam’s lack of talking for another thirty minutes until the shopkeeper walks over and gives his perspective.

“You think you guys can get Sam to come into the store some time?” asked the shopkeeper.

“Sure,” they said in unison. “But why?  He never says a word.”

“I know,” said the shopkeeper.  “I could use a few more customers like him.”

2. The best hunting partners make you look good

Another aspect I like in a partner is that he’s a poor judge of distance. If he sees me make a shot at two hundred yards, he’s sure it was a shade over three hundred. Even though he does the same on his own shots, I can factor it down to reality for myself.

The other good thing about such a partner is that he is just as likely to be good to take fishing. If he overestimates long distances, there’s a good chance he overestimates short ones as well. According to my partner, I have caught some really big fish.

3. Hunting partners with a short memory can be helpful

An especially good characteristic of hunting partners is a short memory. You want it just long enough to remember where to meet and when, but not long enough to remember the shots you missed last weekend or the time you stopped to take wildlife photos of the DNR robotic deer.

4. Handyman partners come in handy

I also like partners to be mechanically inclined. Not mechanics necessarily, but able to fix stuff.

For instance, one hunting buddy had a pickup that his insurance company would have claimed was totaled even if he didn’t have a wreck. If the truck broke in the field, he could always get it to limp along using implements that he found under the seat.

He didn’t own a toolbox so these implements were mostly things he’d lost, trash he’d kicked under the seat, or attachments that came loose inside the truck.

On one cold pre-dawn drive to the blind, the truck overheated and blew a hose.  Somehow, my buddy carved parts out of an aluminum can, a red-white-and-blue one, found some bunched-up duct tape, and plugged the leak. Then we melted snow, refilled the radiator, and went on to hunt.

Although guys like this make good hunting partners, they are not always the best ones to buy a truck from. Unless of course they keep on hunting with you.

5. Look for a hunting partner who can cook

Finally, if there’s one more attribute I like in a hunting partner, it’s the ability to cook what you shoot. On a long trip, beans can become tiresome and some deer jerky, elk salad sandwiches, or roasted pheasants can become culinary delights.

I once heard a fellow compliment another hunter by saying, “He could make roadkill taste good.”  I’m not sure I want to dine with that fellow.  He might actually be serving roadkill.

When it comes down to it, finding the perfect partner takes time, and at the end of the day, there may be no perfect partners.

But I still think if you’re going into bear country, I’m the right guy to take along.  Besides, I’m cheaper than pepper spray.

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Jim Mize

Jim Mize has written humor and nostalgia for magazines including Gray's Sporting Journal, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Field & Stream, and a number of conservation magazines, picking up over fifty Excellence In Craft awards along the way. His most recent book, a collection of humor for fly fisherman entitled A Creek Trickles Through It, was awarded best outdoor book in 2014 by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. More on Jim and his writing activities can be found at acreektricklesthroughit.com