The words TAG SOUP would be what most would painfully grumble as devastation. Granted, the end goal to my Michigan deer season was to notch and secure my tag on a mature whitetail. It didn’t happen. But amidst all of the feelings that flowed through me on January 1st at the end of a long season, there was accomplishment. Seriously? Yes. This is because there is something to be said for the experience, knowledge and skill gained. It surpassed all felt devastation and embarrassment of a pocket full of tags.

I pushed myself hard this year. From venturing the farthest into the deep woods, to learning travel patterns – funnels – pinch points, many of the things I had only read about became reality. The greatest gift reaped this season was not a freezer full, but an overflow of knowledge and again in skill set. Like a Christmas gift, I had to wait for it patiently and be surprised. It wasn’t what I maybe wanted, but it was everything I needed.

I would be lying if I said coming home empty handed time and time again wasn’t defeating. It’s not like a big bowl of tag soup was what I was dreaming about as I laid my head down at hunt camp every night, but I think this year God wanted to show me that perseverance and understanding is a big part of it all. After all, it is not entirely about the reward, but the pursuit. All of the preparation and hard work that we pour into this all-consuming part of our lives is so much of why we do it. It is in the definition of what we are, and the name of the sport we sacrifice for. We are die-hard and emotional. And when it’s all over, we take a deep breath and start fresh again.

I can only be hopeful that the deer we saw on our cameras survived the season and will make it through the winter to mature another year older. Perhaps my wire haired griffon Silas will retrieve their shed antlers. His nose might get the best of him, but one can hope. We will watch these deer and hopefully learn more of them than they do of us.

So as we close out another season, we reflect back on nostalgia and press forward as conservationists. To me, this was the last sit of the season. To my husband, it was the first hunt of the year. We hope next deer season brings with it a mature deer harvest and a freezer full of venison for us all. In the meantime, we prepare. We practice and condition. We educate ourselves as well as those around us. We act as conservationists and stand by our ethics. We revitalize habitats and strategically plan for the next season. And we tell stories and laugh with each other as a group of hunters – a heritage of brothers and sisters supporting one another in a world defined by opposing views.

So here we go – May we toast by raising our glass afield, looking out at what’s to come. Cheers to a new year and upcoming seasons.


Naomi Coates

ReelCamo Girl Brand Champion


Facebook: Naomi Coates


 ReelCamo Girl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share  their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and  self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we  offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild  game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and  hunting perspectives.

ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine.

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