5 Tips to Maximize Your Success This Hunting Season – Learn From The Expert
Whether you’re a newbie hunter, or you’re just looking to brush up on your skills, we’ve got everything you need in our 5 tips to maximize your success this hunting season.
Bring the Right Gear.
The gear you need to bring with you will be dependent on the type of game you’re hunting, and the location and time of year. Packing the right kit is essential to maximize your success this hunting season.
There are some items you should bring with you regardless of when, where, or what you’re hunting.
- A safety orange hunting vest to keep you from being accidentally shot by another hunter.
- A headlamp allows you to stay out into the evening, and some versions use dim lights to avoid being noticed by animals.
- Even if you only plan to be out a couple of hours, you should pack food and water. A reusable water bottle is both environmentally friendly and quieter than cheap disposable plastic bottles. Power bars make a great, portable snack that will give you enough energy to make it through the hunt.
- A battery pack that can charge your GPS, cell phone, and car battery should be another standard piece of kit you bring on hunting trips.
- A good set of binoculars will help you spot hidden game from further away, reducing the chance of them seeing you first.
- If you’re going to field-dress the animal, you’ll need a rope and at least one knife (though many veteran hunters recommend bringing two).
Deer/Autumn/Winter Hunting Gear
For cold-weather hunting, you’ll need gear that will keep you from freezing to death.
- Warm camouflage clothing and thick warm socks will be your best defense against the cold.
- High-quality waterproof boots are mandatory, even if you don’t plan on walking through water. You never know when the weather might change and you get caught in a rainstorm.
- A facemask and gloves will protect you from the cold, and you can get them in camouflage patterns to help you stay hidden.
- Scent elimination spray will help you mask your smell from scaring off the deer. Experienced hunters recommend spraying yourself and your blind every couple of hours.
If your region has game hunting seasons in the spring or summer, your gear list will be a little different.
- Sunscreen is a must, even if you don’t typically get sunburns.
- A lightweight poncho or rain jacket will protect you from sporadic spring rains, and there are many versions designed to compress into a tiny pouch for easy packing.
- An ample supply of insect repellant is the only way you’ll stay sane in the woods, especially if you’re out past dark or overnight.
Physically and Mentally Prepare Yourself.
Hunting involves much more than standing in one place and firing a gun. Hunters often hike for miles through the woods while tracking an animal or finding a good blind spot. Before you go out on your hunt, work on your walking endurance by taking hikes or running on a treadmill. If you can hike in the same area you’ll be hunting in, that will build your endurance and get you used to the terrain.
If you’re hunting medium or large game like deer or elk, you have to prepare to carry that animal out of the woods and back to your vehicle. Lifting weights are one way to increase your carrying strength, or you can do bodyweight exercises like pushups.
If you’re traveling into the wilderness to hunt, you’ll need to do a lot more to prepare yourself. For instance, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends that you begin a physical conditioning program at least four to six months before your hunt.
Hunting in a place like Alaska typically requires you to be able to carry a pack weighing ¼ of your body weight, plus the weight of your kill. You’ll need to be able to carry this stuff up and down mountains, through extremely rough terrain, and possibly even through streams or rivers. It could storm or snow, areas could flood, or sections of the trail could be washed out.
In addition to the physical demands of hunting, you need to prepare for the psychological strain you could face out on your hunt. Even if you’re only traveling a couple of miles from your home, if you’ve never hunted or killed before, you can’t be sure how you’ll react.
You’ll also need to prepare for the possibility that you’ll miss your shots—a lot. How will you react if you’ve spent several days tracking an animal, then when you finally have it in your sights, your bullet or arrow misses the mark? A successful hunter will shrug off the disappointment and keep going.
The mental fortitude needed to survive a wilderness hunt, particularly in rough weather, can’t be overstated. What will you do if you’re trapped in your tent for several days by a blizzard or torrential downpour? Do you have the willpower to keep going after walking for miles and miles in cold temperatures and driving winds?
Choose Your Weapon Wisely.
It’s crucial that you choose the right weapon and ammunition for the type of game you’re hunting. If you’re going out with more experienced hunters, follow their lead and use whatever arms they suggest. If you’re hunting alone or with fellow newbies, do some research to find out what works best for the hunt you’re going on.
Game Size and Type
A smaller game requires smaller ammo, for the most part. The speed and habitat of the animal will also affect the type of weapon you should use. A .22-gauge rifle or even a powerful air gun can be used on small game, and won’t destroy the meat by filling it with lead or blowing it to pieces.
If you’re hunting from a blind or tree stand, you might want to choose a weapon that allows you to hit your target from far away. You’ll also need something that packs a big enough punch to take the animal down in one shot, so you don’t have to climb down and chase after it. A medium to large caliber rifle should do the trick.
If you’re hunting from close range or firing into shrubs or trees, you’ll want a short-range weapon or one that shoots in a spread like a shotgun.
Bowhunting is popular with outdoorsmen and hunting enthusiasts, but it requires a lot of skill. If you’re a first-time hunter, you probably won’t want to use a bow unless you’ve trained in archery before.
There are also hunting handguns, which are more powerful than self-defense handguns. They require a lot of practice and skill to use accurately, though.
Overall Best Choice
If you want something versatile, that you can use for multiple types of the game without spending a ton of time training on it, a hunting rifle is your best bet. Bolt-action rifles are great for beginners, and you can find ammo and accessories for them in any hunting or sporting goods store.
You’ll never catch anything if you scare the animals away by crashing through the woods. There are specific techniques for walking quietly through different types of terrain without alerting game to your presence.
Practice standing absolutely still for long periods of time—at least five minutes. If you accidentally make a loud noise during your hunt, you’ll want to stop everything and wait several minutes while standing as still as possible. A lot of game has poor eyesight, so even if your noise alerts them, they may not be able to see if you if you stand still.
Take short, light steps when you’re walking through dead leaves or thick underbrush. If you’re in a hurry, such as when you’re chasing down an animal, sprint for 10-20 yards at a time, taking those light steps, and pause for a few seconds in between sprints.
Use Your Tracking Skills.
Scouting can make all the difference. If you’re able to scope out the area ahead of time, it could provide useful information about where the animals gather. If you can’t spend time scouting, you should at least research the location and look for scouting tips from other hunters who have been there.
If you’re planning on stalking your game, rather than using a blind or stand, some simple tracking skills will serve you well. Learn how to determine how fresh an animal’s tracks are, and what other signs to look for.
When you find fresh tracks, move cautiously. Animals are always aware of their back trail, so they’ll be looking, smelling, and listening to what’s behind them. Move slowly, with frequent pauses so that they won’t see or hear you, and stay downwind.
Whether you’re stalking, driving, or hunting from a blind, you need to watch the animal for as long as possible before taking your shot. Learn how the animal moves and try to anticipate where and how fast it’ll be moving. Don’t just shoot where the animal currently is; shoot where it will be.
We hope our 5 tips to maximize your success this hunting season help you get out there and start hunting!