Admittedly I stole the idea for this post from Sole Adventure, but it’s a concept that I’ve thought about for a while. I enjoyed the post over on SA’s website so much that I thought adding my thoughts to the subject might be worth the time.
Sole Adventure listed 7 secrets of successful hunters, my list would consist of 6 qualities that I think will help you in the field. I know concentrating on these 6 qualities has pushed me to be a better hunter, outdoorsman and possibly a better person as well.
Patience is a virtue. The more patience you have in the tree stand, during the “spot”, or when on the stalk, will lead to improved success. Patience will also increase your comfort level in the outdoors. If your mind and body are content with not rushing the scene or the situation you will be able to slow down and manage long sits or stalks with ease. Being patient will also increase the amount of time you spend in the woods. I’m not sure there is a more important hunting tactic then spending time hunting; the more time you’re out hunting the more you increase the odds that an encounter with game will occur.
I’m willing to bet there is no hunter that has not rushed a shot that they wish they had practiced more patience on and waited for a better opportunity. Patience will also help hunters handle failure. Being able to correctly process the actions that caused the failure instead of being flushed with the emotional let downs of the act itself will allow you to learn from the failure instead of being dragged down by it.
If I had the ability to increase one aspect of my hunting skills, it would be to increase my patience level.
As patience is a weapon to battle failure and will help you learn from your mistakes, humility is the admission that you will inevitably make mistakes while hunting. Probably a lot of them! Spooked game, wrong stand choice, bad shots, forgotten items in the truck, sleeping in, not paying attention, the list goes on and on. There is no way around it, we are in our prey’s home turf and they will undoubtedly beat us more times than we beat them. Any hunter that tells me they don’t make mistakes is a hunter that I will never be able to relate to.
The beauty of humility is it gives you a mental allowance of failures. Admitting you will fail and make mistakes allows you take those mistakes and learn from them. Turning mistakes into positives is called learning, and if you are in the woods and are not learning something new each time, then you are probably not paying enough attention.
As hunters we need to plan ahead. It may be the most important virtue to being a successful hunter. That is if you call a hunt a success when you get to return home to family and friends at the end. Planning ahead will increase your safety, from using the correct gear or clothing to leaving a planned agenda with a loved one so people know where you can be located in case of an accident.
Planning ahead will not only increase safety but will also improve hunting success as well. The more pre-season scouting that is done the more that will be known about the area that a hunter plans to hunt. From knowing the prevailing winds to available food sources will allow you to make more educated decisions on where to hang stands or where to still hunt. My pre-season planning constitutes having stand locations for every wind, every weather, and for each phase of the season. The night before a hunt I check the weather and come up with 2-3 stand locations I want to hunt. On the drive out in the morning or afternoon I recheck the weather and then make a final decision of which stand to hunt. Without planning I would be lost, I would not feel comfortable or confident hunting without thinking ahead.
Knowledge of Your Gear
Without having an intimate knowledge of the gear a hunter is using, there is no chance to optimize that gear during a hunt. Hunting publications constantly preach practice with your weapon, gun or bow. But we shouldn’t stop there. Boots, tree stands, clothing, and all the other things we carry into the woods need to be tested and understood. You cannot assure yourself that a tree stand will not squeak if it hasn’t been used yet. No way to tell how warm or cold you will be without being conscious of the clothing choices you made.
Before each season I take all my hunting equipment and inspect it and evaluate its value. If I did not use it once the year before, it goes on EBay. Tree stands get new straps and bolts are lubricated and tightened. Everything is checked to make sure it survived the previous year and the summer storage. I suggest you do the same, it can’t hurt.
Most people could use better flexibility, but hunters should pay extra attention to their physical and tactical flexibilities. Physical flexibility will increase your comfort level in the stand or on the stalk. Sitting in one spot all day with little movement is not natural and our bodies inevitably tighten up. When our prey appears we then expect our bodies to react immediately and effectively. There is no real reason we should expect that our body should do that after hours of not moving. The best way to counteract that is through flexibility. A continual stretching regiment throughout the year will decrease the time your body needs to get ready after continual stillness. Flexibility will increase your comfort level; make you a better still hunter and decrease cramps and stiffness that are associated with sitting still for long periods of time.
Flexibility in your tactics will obviously make you a better hunter as well. Deer and other game change their habits year to year based on food sources, pressures, and weather patterns. If you are not changing your hunting habits with them, you’ll be missing out.
How can you hunt without confidence in your gear? In your bow or gun? In yourself for that matter? It’s nearly impossible. Confidence is by far the most important aspect to hunting. Every virtue I’ve listed before depends on an individual’s confidence in themselves and that virtue to be effective. How can anyone being patient in a tree stand without the confidence that it is working properly and they will be safe in it, or the confidence the stand is set in a quality area that was scouted?
These virtues are circular. You need confidence to practice the other virtues, but you need to practice each virtue to gain confidence. Hunting is a constant struggle against your skills and confidence, if it was easy it wouldn’t be as fun or ingrained in our personas. Hunt Safe and Smart!
Be sure to check out Sole Adventure to see where the idea for the article originated.