Discovering your Limits and Pushing Them.

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I just returned from a trip in northern New Mexico hunting the Vermejo Park Ranch for high elevation Merriam’s turkeys.  Stimulated by lack of electronic communications of any sort for 9 days, repeated bouts of altitude sickness, an incredible venue, and the wonders of the outdoor world caused several thoughts to occur to me while I was chasing those birds.  

First, even though many of us have allowed ourselves to become slaves to email, texts, cell phones, internet, websites, blogs, and all that the electronic leash entails, there is no replacement for disconnecting, unplugging, and shutting oneself off from the electronic world for awhile.  In fact, it is necessary for most of us in order to re-prioritize who we are and why we do what we do.

Second, the only thing that is certain in this world is change.  I hunted turkeys in at 8,000-10,000 feet in 75 degree weather one day and in 14 inches of snow the next.  Mother nature can be a bitch, but she sure knows how to add a dose of reality to a situation.  We make our way through life in much the same way. Just when you think you have a handle on a situation, you will find that the conditions have changed.  The point is that the ability to be flexible to adapt to change is ultimately how we survive physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The third thought that occurred to me –  I am not as young as I used to be.  I remember hunting with my family out west when I was in my early twenties.  Altitude sickness was something I joked about – watching the old folks gasp for breath as they walked on level ground.  I realize that the joke is now on me, and I have now joined their ranks.  But I adapted my approach in a way that was appropriate for the terrain, the weather, my condition, and yes, my age, and was able to finish my hunt safely and successfully. 

Finally, I rediscovered what it is like to find your breaking point and then push past it to new limits.  Each of us has our own challenges, capabilities, capacities, and limitations.  What I found on this trip was that, if you are willing to push outside of your own comfort level, then you can achieve great things.  I hunted side by side with folks as young as 12 and old as 70 something.  We all struggled, but no one quit, from the mightiest to the meekest, and everyone succeeded because of they were simply unwilling to fail.

For myself working nearly two decades in the fish & wildlife community, these lessons have proven the difference between success and failure.  Within state fish and wildlife agencies, change will always happen.  And most of the time that change is positive and good.  There are numerous speculation as to why I left Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, but the real reason was that it was time for a change…for me, and for the agency.  Having a new commissioner installed will bring fresh ideas and excitement to the agency.  He is surrounded by quality people who are passionate about the resource.  Under his guidance, I expect that KDFWR will once again rise to the top as one of the best agencies in the country.  Please join me in welcoming and supporting Greg Johnson as the new Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.  I know that he will do an outstanding job taking the agency that we love to new levels, and I hope that he enjoys being there half as much as I did.  Tight lines and warm barrels!


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