Preparation is key to a successful hunt and while it’s easy to remember the most obvious items like camo, arrows and your deer tag; there’s more to deer hunting than just shooting the animal you’re after. With that in mind let’s go over a few things you can do to ensure a successful hunt.
DO Prepare Your Equipment
Besides a standard checklist of the necessities – zeroed rifle, ammo, knife, hunter orange, etc – it’s a great idea to also have an equipment readiness checklist. Check scope rings and action screws as well as any mechanics that could cause issues in the field before heading out to make sure it all works properly.
I prefer to test fire my hunting rifles just before the hunt. This not only serves as a function test but also works to foul the bore. Leaving my barrels fouled before a hunt, I find they shoot more predictably in the field. Make sure you also have the tools on hand necessary to service your equipment should it be needed.
In addition to primary equipment, it’s always helpful to have backups available in the event there is an issue or problem. I always bring at least two guns and enough ammo for both. A broken firing pin could end a once in a lifetime hunt, bringing a second rifle could prove to be a lifesaver.
DON’T Forget to Bring Comforts
So many deer hunts can be miserable due to a lack of simple preparation. Hunts are hard enough on their own, but they’re made worse when you are tired, hungry and cold. Spend adequate time preparing little things to make your trip into the wild more comfortable. Even in you aren’t successful in your hunt, at least you’ll be comfortable.
A foam pad to sit on in the snow or a mosquito net to keep biting bugs at bay or even a good trekking pole is a must for a more comfortable time in the field. Also, invest in a couple of pairs of shoes – boots for the trails and a comfy pair of sneakers to change back into at camp. Extra clothes, back-pack, cold-weather, and rain gear can all be the last thread keeping you from folding.
Again, make sure you have two of everything vital to the hunt and your survival.
DO Prepare for the Harvest
Sometimes we hunters focus solely on the hunt and neglect to prep for the harvest. It may seem like counting chickens before they hatch, but good preparation for this shows diligence towards our goal. Being committed to the goal will help keep hunters in the right state of mind.
A cooler full of ice, several knives, rope, and other tools to properly handle a downed animal will ensure the meat doesn’t spoil and nothing is wasted. Depending on the terrain you hunt, you may want to have alternative strategies to extract your quarry such as handcarts or sleds.
DON’T Neglect Your Body
The exhaustive labor involved in hunting can tax the human body like few other things. Do yourself a favor and get your body in shape before the season starts. Good nutrition and sleep are always helpful before and during hunting season. Everyone’s body is different and needs its own care regimen prior to exerting the load of a big hunt. Find out what works best for you — whether it’s diet or exercise — to be in your best shape. It not only will make your hunt better but will also keep you safer in the wilderness.
I’ve been on a few deer hunts over the years and nothing teaches you a lesson better than being unprepared. With that in mind, save yourself some heartaches by prepping prior to heading into the field.