Everyone has a story about the one that got away! It may be about that special girlfriend or boyfriend that almost closed the deal. Maybe it was that bargain you almost made. Perhaps it was a job or an opportunity lost.
For sportsmen, it comes down to the fish, fowl, feathers, antlers, horn, or catch that got away. After catching a lifetime of fishing and hunting, which stories stay with you the longest? Hunting seasons always tell the tales of the Big Buck that almost made it to your wall. The stories about the missed shots are the best memories.
Stories of loss are moments of learning. Nothing teaches us a lesson better than a Big Fat mistake or missed opportunity or shot. The lesson may be a hard one but, if you embrace the mistake, you can make sure it does not repeat.
During a Canadian Fly In trip, we fished a remote lake called Echo Lake. Written on the wall of the A-Frame cabin was graffiti saying “Echo Lake Big Mistake”! The lake held walleye, big perch, and pike. Our outfitter told us what to do and where to fish but we all knew better. By the middle of the week, we discovered the Outfitter was right.
On one outing, I marked a school of perch and began fishing for them with my 5 foot Ultra Light rod and reel loaded with 4 lb. test line After vertical jigging a few “Neds”, I hooked into a bigger fish. As I began to reel in, the barely hooked fish slowly rose to the surface. It looked like an alligator that was a couple of yards long. As soon as we locked eyes, the fight was on. A great battle ensued and I was gaining ground. My fishing partner was ready with the net as I told him to net the fish but do not try and lift it into the boat.
As the HUGE PIKE came along side, the fish was netted but… never lift a monster fish into the boat. As the net lifted, it bent at the neck and busted in half! The pike was free and we both just looked at each other in disbelief. Somehow, I still had my lure attached to my line. The outcome was sad, but the memory is eternal.
Big Buck and Bull Elk stories often end the same way. A tree gets in the way, you made a noise at the wrong time, equipment failed, someone else did something wrong, or it was just not meant to be. Whatever the reason, the story is about “the one that got away”.
The point is to learn from the mistake. Practice more, be a student of your sport, anticipate the mistakes before they happen. Success happens when preparation, planning, and timing come together. The more experience we have, the better choices we make. No matter what happens, the stories about the almost, maybe, “woulda”, “coulda, “shouldas”, are always the best.
Never stop learning!