Hopefully you had a successful hunt last year, or at the least, had some fun out in the woods. If you are anything like me, once the season is over all your gear ends up in a state of chaos. Regardless of whether you are a seasoned hunter, or just starting out, these tips can be helpful.
Just like in the Military, before I go hunting I do a gear layout. Sometimes the woods take things from you and you don’t even realize it. It is much better to learn that you need to replace a piece of gear before you actually need it. Aside from missing items, I look for damaged gear: rust, chipped blades, crack casings, and anything else that needs to be fixed. Finally, I go over my dried goods. I usually take spices, dehydrated foods, liquid soap, paper towels, fuel, etc. If it’s low, this is when I find out and I go ahead and replace it.
Before you start going to the range take your bow into your local shop and get it tuned up. Typically, if you bought a bow from a store they will do this free of charge. They will ensure that nothing has come off level, the strings are in good shape and tight, and make any minor adjustments that you may need. Make sure before you leave the store, that you draw the bow and check the peep. With all the tinkering it’s easy for it to get twisted. Without a bow press it is extremely difficult to fix this kind of problem effectively. Also, since you did your layout you can pick up any missing or damaged items.
Practice. Practice. Practice. I cannot say it enough. I am never as good in the woods as I am at the range. The range is the ideal shooting condition. When you are in the woods you are usually in a more adverse environment, and trying to stay calm while processing adrenaline. This is a difficult task. Do a self assessment; can you accurately engage the 40m target consistently? If your answer is no, then you need to practice more. The goal is to harvest a deer humanely, and practicing will help you achieve this.
It’s wise to visit your hunting grounds throughout the year. The more scouting you do, the higher your chance of harvesting. If you scout in the winter months it is a lot easier to find, follow, and document game trails (if you have access to private land set your cameras up). If you only ever scout in the Summer, you aren’t getting everything out of scouting you could. I like to scout during grouse season so I can bag a few birds while I am walking around. Scouting is also a great time to try to find some antler sheds. As it gets closer to hunting season you can also use this time to clear some shooting lanes. Bring a small saw and trim branches that may interfere with your shot.
Prepare your clothes
You should wash all your hunting gear prior to the season. After it is washed, you can store it in an airtight bag with some foliage, or with some kind of masking product. Leave it packaged up until you are actually ready to hunt. This will help prevent the introduction of scents that may spook a deer from the area that you are hunting. Personally, I don’t think that scent control is as important as camouflage, however I do consider it a force multiplier and take it into account while preparing for my hunts.
Almost every year, rules, regulations, or laws will change in the hunting world. You may gain or lose freedoms. For example, last year was the first year we could use lighted-nocks. This year is the first year where we can use mechanical broadheads (this only applies in Washington, check your State for applicable regulations). Not knowing the rules will not work as an excuse if you are caught doing something illegal. The onus is on you as a hunter to know the current regulations.
If anyone has hunting pictures from last year we would love to see them. Just put the location and game that you were hunting.
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