Long hours in the field or on the water can lead your mind to interesting places. A positive mindset is always a helpful tool, but hard to achieve during trying times. Superstitious idiosyncrasies come about in these moments and are often self-crafted or handed down from hunting heroes or mentors. The MeatEater team is no different.

April Vokey’s Superstition:
“I’ve always had this superstition that I need to knock on wood if I say or think something that may ‘jinx me.’ It’s really quite silly and gives me away every time I play poker when I knock the underside of the table. I’ll even go out of my way to knock on a tree if I’m outside and have a ‘jinxable’ thought. This superstition follows me to the river.

“When I’m fighting a big fish, I knock my thumb repeatedly on the cork handle—regardless of whether it runs the risk of me losing the fish. It’s a superstition that has proven ridiculous, yet I can’t bring myself to break it.”

Steve Rinella’s Superstition:
“Over the years, I’ve realized that I kill a hell of a lot more turkeys in the late morning than I do at daybreak. It’s real enough that I often kick around the idea of sleeping in until 7 or 8 in the morning and then heading into the woods fully rested rather than getting out of bed in the middle of the night and stumbling half-asleep into the dark and cold woods. By giving myself a few extra hours of sleep, I’d undoubtedly feel a lot better, it’d probably be more fun, and I doubt that it would greatly impact the number of birds that I encountered. But I have this irrational belief—let’s call it superstition—that willfully skipping the cold and dark part of a turkey hunt would cause irreparable damage to my soul.

“Of course, a turkey has no idea of how long you’ve been waiting there in the woods. An experienced turkey hunter who’s been leaning against a tree for 30 minutes is going to call and shoot as effectively—maybe even more effectively—than one who’s been leaning against a tree for 3 hours. But, for whatever reason, I’m cursed with this belief that the hunting gods would punish someone who cheated the system by not ‘earning’ his birds through suffering and lack of sleep. Maybe someday I’ll shake this conviction, though I kind of doubt it. For now, I’m destined to spending my spring mornings sitting in the darkened woods while dreaming about bed.”

Mark Kenyon’s Superstition:
“I honestly don’t have any outdoor superstitions. For a short time, I thought I had a lucky pair of boxers, but that was unsustainable for obvious reasons. In reality, I much prefer to create my own luck through a positive attitude and a ‘leave it all on the court’ effort.

“I do believe that when you enter a hunting or fishing trip with the right mindset, equal parts optimism and mental toughness, things just tend to work out. Maybe that’s luck. Maybe that’s looking at the glass half full. Maybe that’s the universe bending to your will. Regardless, at the end of any adventure, if I know I can honestly say I gave it my all, I’m guaranteed a strong sense of self-satisfaction and probably a few good stories to boot. I’d call that lucky every time.”

Miles Nolte’s Superstition:
“As a kid, I had dozens of different superstitions around fishing; most of them involved articles of clothing. One, however, persisted far longer than it should’ve. From the time I was probably 10 years old through my early 20s, my Little League all-star team ball-cap shielded my eyes every single time I went fishing, which defeated any chance of actually testing its efficacy as a luck charm.

“Years of continual sun and sweat undermined the cheap hat’s structural integrity. By the time I finally retired it, the adjustable sizing snaps were a duct-tape tumor and the bill was about as rigid as an al dente lasagna noodle. The day I retired the hat, I got skunked and experienced a short-lived anxiety that I’d never catch another fish again.

“Though I’ve never again imbued an inanimate object with a belief that it would alter the outcome of my fishing, I’ve come to embrace the very real power of confidence. If you believe you’re going to be successful on the water or in the field, your odds improve dramatically. If a particular outfit or totem boosts your confidence, I’d say that’s a worthy superstition.”

Feature image via Captured Creative.