Are you ready for your hunt?
Are you ready for your hunt?
By Neil Large THC Pro-staff
Are you ready for your hunt, I mean really ready? Is your body tuned up to endure the physical rigors often encountered on a hunt? Is your mind focused on success while free of doubt? Is your rifle or bow seemingly an extension of your body ready to carry out orders? Will you be conducting your hunt in a game rich environment? These are questions hunters must ask themselves before stepping into the field if they want to increase their chance of success. By following a simple formula of success, hunters can be more likely to eat what they kill this fall while admiring a new set of antlers on the wall.
Get in Shape!!
It is no secret that many of our hunting brethren could stand to lose a few pounds. While becoming complacent with the “easy life” during the off season, our bodies show the results of a relatively sedentary lifestyle. The first step in the hunting success equation is simply to get in better shape. Granted, many hunters have the luxury of a naturally fast metabolism and never increase their weight regardless of what they eat. Many of us however need to train our bodies to run efficiently year round. This comes with clean eating and exercise. No, not just dieting, but a change in lifestyle that allows us to get in shape while reaping the rewards of having a healthy body.
Without going into much detail about a specific “diet”, I will simply say that natural, un-processed foods will lead to more weight loss in conjunction with exercise than eating pasta and fast food. A regular exercise regimen will pay off huge dividends come fall by allowing your body to go further, breathe easier, carry more weight, and be free of pain associated with an overweight, out of shape body. I recently lost 50 pounds (and plan to lose another 30 or so) by eating right, working out and riding a mountain bike five days a week. Having spent several days above 9000’ so far this year scouting for my elk hunt, I can tell you first hand that navigating the steep mountains at high elevations has not been this “easy” in a number of years! The bottom line is that the most successful hunters are able to get into places that hold animals without shying away from spots that are difficult to get to. The in-shape hunter will also have an easier pack-out when all is said and done.
It amazes me, year after year the number of hunters that wound animals because they neglected to become proficient with their weapon of choice. I understand that sometimes bad shots happen, even to those of us who are ready, if you hunt long enough it will happen. By becoming one with your rifle or bow, the chance of wounding game is considerably reduced, especially when staying within your “sure kill” range capability.
Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! By becoming completely comfortable with your weapon of choice, hunters not only extend their maximum range (which leads to success), but are able to ensure their weapon is free of problems and in complete working order when a shot opportunity presents itself. I shoot my bow for about an hour four days a week. The duration and frequency in which I shoot is a direct reflection of my available “free time”. I shoot form 6-7am on days off and before work. By being creative with my schedule, I have been able to carve out four hours a week of preparation for future hunts. I have extended my effective range, know my bow like the back of my hand, and have put my mind at ease because of my intimate knowledge in regards to my bow and shooting ability.
This is arguably the most important ingredient in your recipe for success. Hunters must become familiar with their hunt area BEFORE opening day! During the off season make several trips into your hunt unit to learn access points, game movement patterns, and to give yourself more time to hunt when the season arrives. There is nothing more frustrating than having a limited amount of time to hunt but not be “in the game” so to speak. When you’re not scouting, look at maps, talk to other hunters or the game managers of a particular unit and without a doubt spend time on Google Earth. Next to actually being in your hunt unit, Google Earth is an amazing tool to find areas to scout and essentially fine-tune your approach to hunting a particular area.
You want to be successful this fall? Get your butt off the couch and into the field! Enjoy the solitude and build anticipation for your adventure while figuring out where the animals are spending their time. Glass, hang trail cameras, check out what is over the “next ridge”, hike around, learn the roads, just spend time in your unit gaining all the info you can before opening day. By doing so, you will afford yourself the luxury of hunting in an area loaded with game and peace of mind knowing you only have to focus on hunting animals you have already found.
There are so many variables involved in the planning and execution of a hunt that hunters often lose focus on success. It is in the best interest of those wishing to fill their tag this fall to remain focused on their goal and have a positive outlook even when things look bleak. By maintaining a positive outlook throughout the duration of your hunt, you will be able to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves.
Several years ago a couple friends and I were in New Mexico for the second consecutive year hunting mule deer in the Gila National Forest. We had passed up some good bucks early on, but as the hunt drew closer to the end, finding them again proved somewhat difficult. On the last afternoon I glassed up a large bodied buck with his face buried in an oak bush. As he raised his head to survey his surroundings, I realized he was one that I would like to take back to Arizona with me. One well-placed 425 yard shot from my .300 Win put him on the ground as I sighed in relief. Had I not been focused on my goal of killing a good buck while staying positive while the chips were down, I may have missed the opportunity to harvest such a nice buck.
Never surrender! Don’t go home early! Hunt all day! DO NOT GIVE UP!
I’ll be the first to admit that this formula for success is not a foolproof 100 percent guarantee that you will kill more and bigger animals. As mentioned earlier, there are just too many variables to make a guarantee like that. If followed closely however, your success ratio will increase dramatically leaving your hunting related worries centered around available wall space for all of your trophies. Hunt hard my friends.