Time for some hunting tips
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, October 18, 2008.)
It’s time for some “pre-season” tips. You may already be hanging treestands and trail cameras, and doing all the rest that goes into scouting.
If you hunt from a camp, notice who
the most successful hunters are. They're the guys
who spend the least time in camp.
If you’re not, now is the time to get with the program before it gets any later. Here are some things to think about now.
1. If you’re a stand hunter, visit your stand a few weeks before the season. That’s the time to look for obstructions to your visibility and clear them away – or to add obstructions. Consider altering deer trails by placing barriers that guide deer to spots where you’ll have a shooting opportunity.
2. When you get to your stand on opening morning, get the noisy things you need to do done right away so that you don’t make any sounds once you’re settled in. Clear away the leaves, sticks and rocks from the spot you’ll stand in. Arrange your gear so that it will take minimal movement to reach it. Unwrap your snacks, and put them within easy reach.
3. Check over your equipment. Is your scope clear? Will anything interfere with drawing your bow or raising your rifle? Is there a shell in the chamber of your gun? Are your binoculars in focus?
4. Don’t limit yourself to one favorite stand. Remember that opening day is different than any other day. The patterns of deer may change once early season pressure is gone.
5. When stand hunting, never leave before the legal shooting time is over. Often, the best time of the day to kill a buck is the last minute of shooting light. I once saw a big, mature buck a minute or two before quitting time. I was disappointed that I couldn’t get a shot, but I’d rather have seen him than not seen him. Leaving 10 minutes early can easily cost you the buck of a lifetime.
6. Always carry a deer call, even if you don’t plan to use it, and even if you think it might scare deer away. You’ll get opportunities to try it out on deer that you don’t want to shoot. Use it to see their reactions. Sooner or later, you’ll gain confidence and have an opportunity to use it where it makes a difference.
7. Keep exploring new areas because property ownership and land uses change. When hunting a new area it pays in the long run to hunt a new stand each day for a few days. This is the fastest way to learn the deer movement patterns on that property.
8. Knowing the land leads to greater success. The more you know, the better luck you’ll have. Learn how to use aerial photos and topographic maps. Become familiar with where the ridgeline changes, where any old orchards are, where water sources are. Always review a topographic map before hunting. Even better, take one with you. If you wound a buck the map will come in doubly handy.
9. Think of hunting as taking a test. Review what’s important before going hunting each year – especially in the areas of hunting ethics and gun safety. Remember that being 99.9% sure of your target is not enough. Commit to safe and ethical practices before you go into the woods. Remember that when you hunt ethically and safely, and return home from a positive experience, you’ve passed the test.
10. Finally, the best tip to killing more game is to hunt more. Someone has said that the key to success in life is to show up. That goes double for hunting. Getting into the woods as much as possible is the guaranteed way to increase your luck. The most successful hunters are not lucky hunters. They’re out at daylight, come back after dark, and hunt in the rain. They’re the hunters who spend the most time in the woods and the least time in front of their TV sets. If you hunt from a camp, notice who the most successful hunters are. They’re the guys who spend the least time in camp.
Much more can be said, and usually is, but you’ll learn more by listening than by talking. That’s as true of hunting as it is anything else.