4 New Year’s resolutions for hunting
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
With 2016 now in the rearview mirror, this is a good time to look back on our hunting experiences for the year and see how we could have done things better. The fact of the matter is that, no matter how well we might have done afield last year, there are always things we can improve upon.
Here are my hunting New Year's resolutions.
1. Slow down and pay attention
God only knows how many deer and elk I passed by this hunting season without noticing they were there. Unfortunately, I'll bet it was more than a few, and my season probably would have turned out differently if I was moving a little slower and paying more attention to things.
It's easy to look at things without really "seeing" what's there when you're really tired (I'm sure I'm far from the only one who struggles with this). This is especially true once you've been hunting for a long time and haven't seen many animals. If you're subconsciously believing there aren't any animals to see, then there is a good chance you won't notice them even if they are there.
This year, I'm going to make more of an effort to move slower and more carefully through the woods and force myself to actually deliberately search for animals instead of just casually scanning.
2. Spend more time in the woods
It's true that you can train your eyes and your mind to better notice various shapes (like a deer's antler or ear). That's one of the reasons why some people can seemingly effortlessly and instantly spot an animal in a dense forest or at long range. They may have excellent eyesight, but they also have a mind trained to recognize small shapes or pieces of an animal for what they are.
The only way to do that is to spend time out in the woods and become more familiar with what things look like there. Spending more time in the woods where you hunt also has the added benefit of helping you become more familiar with the area in general and the movement patterns of the game animals there in particular.
In 2017, I'm going to do everything possible to spend more time out in the woods scouting and attempting to spot game.
3. Go where other hunters don't want to go
Mature animals don't grow big and old by being dumb. They'll quickly learn the patterns of hunters and spend their time in the thickest and nastiest places that are the toughest to reach. This is especially true when hunting on public land with a lot of hunting pressure.
Sure, anyone can get lucky and run into a nice bull or buck standing in a meadow or by the side of the road, but don't count on it. This means you'll need to go where other hunters don't want to go if you want to find game. Doing so makes for a much more physically demanding hunt, but that's what you've got to do sometimes if you want to take a mature animal.
With this in mind, I plan on making more of an effort to go where other hunters don't want to go next hunting season.
4. Focus more on the hunt
Never forget that no matter how cold, tired, wet and miserable you may be on your hunt, this is something you dream of doing all year long. You have the entire rest of the year to check email and look at Facebook.
Try to put all of those other things out of your mind and focus on the hunt while you're out in the woods. In fact, doing a better job at focusing on the hunt will probably also help you to pay more attention to your surroundings and spot more game, so it's a win-win situation.
This year, I'm going to make a concerted effort to put my other concerns aside and focus entirely upon the hunt while I'm in the woods.
Well, those are my hunting New Year's resolutions. What are yours?
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