Photo credit: Josh Kirchner
Photo credit: Jake Kirchner
Photo credit: Josh Kirchner
Gear, gear, gear! Right now, many companies are unveiling new products for us to all drool over for the upcoming hunting seasons. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a gear junkie and didn’t love this time of year. I’m always looking to better my gear list and I know I’m not alone in that pursuit. Gear is a rabbit hole that many of us fall down from time to time—some more than others. A lot of focus goes into the gear side of things and it’s for good reason, I suppose. We need good gear that we can rely on through thick and thin, especially if we are talking about backpack hunting. The gear on our backs is what we need to survive back there; however, something that I think gets overlooked often is going into the field with a healthy state of mind—and a smart one at that. Stepping foot into the hills and trying to hunt smart is just as important—if not more important—than all of that gear we put so much thought into. Being thoughtful of your actions out there is going to make you more productive overall and, with the busy lives we lead, this should be a welcomed tool in our toolbox.
We are hunters. Being aware should be a given to us, right? All of our senses come into play when we set foot in the field. Every out of place noise we hear, movement we see, and odor that wafts across our nose is noticed. Yet, year after year, at some point, we get caught when we least expect it. In my opinion, this happens because of some outside distractions. You let your guard down when laughing with a buddy or you just blew a stalk on a nice buck and are in a state of defeat. All along though, you didn’t notice the second buck standing right in front of you. Maybe, it is something bothering you from work? An unfinished project or an issue with a coworker? Leave work at work. Settling things back home before you head out is going to let you be at rest in the field. When our attention is elsewhere, we fail to see the whole picture sometimes, letting other opportunities fly out the window. I don’t think this is something that we can absolutely control, but it doesn’t hurt for us to try to improve on the matter.
Our time these days is something to cherish. Every year that goes by, I feel like I have less and less time throughout the day to get things done. Scheduling hunts is something that I actually have to think out now. Before, it wasn’t a big deal for me. As we grow though, so do our responsibilities and our lack of time is a direct result of that. 26 hours in a day might be pretty nice at this point for some folks. For that reason, I think it is imperative that, when we do get time to get out and either hunt or scout, we take full advantage of it. Having a loose plan before I even get to an area has helped me out a lot. It gives me direction and keeps me focused.
Without it, I tend to wander, lose track of time, and before I know it, it’s time to go home. While I am a fan of wandering, I don’t think it is the most efficient way to “get things done.” This is especially true with scouting as far as I’m concerned. Scouting helps us see what might lie ahead. If we aren’t looking in the right places, we won’t see the full picture if you catch my drift. When it does come time for the actual hunt, I say hunt every minute that you can. No matter how discouraged or down you might feel from a tough hunt, you need to stay out there. Things can change in a hurry. Be there for the change.
Early on in my bowhunting I found that I would get lazy. Well, what I thought was lazy, was really my inexperience knocking me in the head. Time after time, I might spot a buck way off in the distance. A place I had never walked to, a place that was farther than I wanted to go and a deer that I probably wouldn’t put an arrow into. Excuses would breed like wildfire and, before I knew it, I wasn’t going on the stalk. “Ah, I don’t have enough daylight to get over there. He’s too far. Can I even get to where he is?” These are some examples of thoughts that would run through my mind. Gone went the opportunity, gone went the deer and gone went any semblance of confidence I may have gained from that experience. After time went on, I soon realized something. Each and every opportunity that I didn’t go after—no matter how impossible it might have seemed at the time—was an opportunity lost. More than a few times since then I have been amazed at what happens if I just go. You don’t know if you don’t go. Each of us only gets so much time to do the things we love and chase our dreams out there. Take advantage of the time you do get and maximize your efforts in the field.
Photo credit: Jake Kirchner
I’ve preached over the years about how hunting is all about the journey/experience for me and I still stand behind that. Happiness flows through me no matter if I fill a tag or not. It is a privilege just to be out there doing something that I love in such beautiful and wild places. However, we are out there with a tag in our pockets that we would all love to wrap around an animal. If you aren’t, then leave your bow or rifle at the truck. There is no sense in carrying that extra weight around. Then, there is the time issue. We are all limited on time and if you do, in fact, decide to carry the extra weight of that weapon, then hunting smart is something to think about. So much preparation goes into the gear side of things and physical fitness. The actual hunting side, though? Now, that is the meat and potatoes of this whole thing. It is the end all be all. Be aware, maximize your time, maximize your effort and maximize your results.