Knowing When Enough is Enough

Posted on July 6, 2021




Your audience will let you know when it’s time to go. – Frank Sinatra



How do we determine when it is time to go? When have you written enough on a specific subject matter, the white-tailed deer in my case? How impactful is what you have to produce being on the audience you have built? Does your age have an impact? How about longevity?

We’ve all seen celebrities that either should have retired or stayed retired. These have been athletes, musicians, singers, TV personalities, etc. Most who stayed one season, one game, one boxing match, one snap too long will be remembered more for that than the fabulous career they had leading up to poor career judgement in the end.

The former CEO of Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca, was once asked, how much money is enough? Lee’s response? “Just a little bit more.”

However, a little bit more can become an abysmal failure, especially in professional athletics. The body is only going to function for just so long at the required level these highly competitive sports demand, unless of course your name is Tom Brady. It is just a fact of life. To make attempts at reversing course and trying to make a comeback rarely, if ever, works and in the end – a whole lot of embarrassment could have been avoided.

In the fiction movie, For Love of the Game, pitcher Billy Chapel is faced with some incredible decisions on the last day of the season. In a movie summary provided by J. Haily:

“Baseball great Billy Chapel, 40, wants nothing more than to reconnect with his one-time lover, Jane Aubrey. On the morning he’s to pitch the last game of the season, she tells him she’s leaving that evening for a job in London; he also learns that the Detroit Tigers’ new owners plan to trade him. As he pitches that night, he must decide whether to accept the trade or quit the game he loves, and between innings, he recalls meeting Jane, their first date, happy times, miscommunication, and what may be a final break. Meanwhile, with Vin Scully announcing, one Yankee batter after another fails to reach first base. Can Billy pitch a perfect game, and if so, what does it matter if he loses Jane?”

All choices about knowing when enough is enough. In the end, with two strikes on the 27th batter in the bottom of the ninth, Vin Scully asks, “Will this be the last pitch in Billy Chapel’s life? Will this be the last pitch of his Major League career, and if so, what a high note!”

In the midst of a no-hitter, faced with life altering decisions of being traded, during the top of the ninth inning Billy Chapel inscribes a note regarding his future on a baseball, “Tell them I’m through, For Love of the Game.” Billy then goes out to the mound for the last time and sets the Yankees down in order, thus pitching a perfect game on his last game of a 19-year career with the same team.

Yes, I know it is a movie, a script that was written from Michael Shaara’s 1991 novel published with the same title, but isn’t that the way someone should go out? Isn’t that a fitting ending? How can you ever hope to duplicate that should you decide to continue? You don’t. You can’t. It is knowing when enough is enough.

In the sea that I swim in among my peers of deer hunters, trackers, writers, photographers, speakers, I occasionally ask myself the question, when is enough, enough? Have I written everything that I would love to convey about an animal I love? Have I provided enough substance to those thirsty to learn all there is to being successful at tracking down big bucks? Have I met enough editorial deadlines over the course of nearly a quarter century? Have I produced the number of books that completely covers it all from A-to-Z? Or is there just a little bit more?

Does my photography still pop and wow those that enjoy such things? Does it do the subject matter justice? Are my speaking engagements still fresh and exciting for the audience? Is what they hear more than what they expected or hoped for?

Have I shot my final buck? If so, can I live with that? After all, what is just one more antlered specimen added to a career that has taken more than my fair share?

To these questions I do not have an answer, not yet anyway. I feel that I will know it when that time comes, at least I hope so. The positive aspect of self-reflection is a litmus test not only for what you are doing currently, but to gauge the magnitude of whether what you have to offer is still of value.

I will say, regardless of how many deer, turkeys and other wildlife I’ve photographed over the years, I still get giddy with excitement each time I go. No matter the size of the crowds or how many hundreds of speaking engagements I have performed, I still get cotton mouthed, and wish I was anywhere but in front of that crowd… STILL!

No matter how many thousands of tracks I’ve observed, when I come across one that belongs to a behemoth buck, the excitement is no less than that of my youthful enthusiasm. And for as long as my fingers can continue to find the correct letters on the keypad, I still find it refreshing to write down my thoughts. I continue to be humbled by the many readers that buy my books and look forward to my next column.

I was asked by my editor not long ago, “How long do you anticipate doing this?” “Doing what?” I inquired. “Writing,” he retorted. After thinking about it for a couple of minutes I said, “For as long as there is an audience thirsty for more.”

For me, when the time does ultimately come, I don’t want the audience deciding, or some good willed individual making attempts to coax me on after the curtain has come down. I want to be satisfied enough that I won’t need just a little bit more. Nope, I want to go out like Billy Chapel, knowing I gave it all and for all to enjoy, learn and grow from. I want to go out ‘For Love of the Game.’

And for me, at least, I believe the key is to walk away when you want to… not when you have to!


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Posted in: Whitetail Deer