There are two main ways to bag your game: 1. Develop the strength, endurance and woodsmanship to find them close or 2. Develop the skills to shoot them far. Imagine how much game you’d bag if you controlled a Predator drone.
You can’t hunt with drones, so employ other tactics. Here are seven that work for me for everything from whitetails to moose. Some are pretty basic, but simple things are the foundation of success.
- Get in shape. Strength and endurance bring home the bacon. The hunter who can hike farther, climb higher, tolerate rain and cold and stay in the field stands is there when the game shows up. So walk, jog, run, lift, and carry a pack like you will in the mountains. The tougher you are, the deadlier you are.
- Train to shoot. Don’t just learn it. Hone it. Perfect it. Bow or firearm. Become quick and deadly as far out as you can. The bowhunter who can drill arrow after arrow into a pie plate at 60 yards will take more game than the one who can only do it to 30 yards. With modern firearms and a good scope, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be deadly to 300 yards, and 400 yards isn’t excessive. Beyond that, you really need special tools and extra training. Make ethical choices whenever you shoot. Be 100% positive you’ll score or don’t fire.
- Buy a good —no, a great — binocular. Yeah, you can hunt and shoot without this, but magnifying your vision 8X, 10X or 12X is almost like being Superman. Ten-power magnification makes everything appear ten times closer. How can you not see more game? Added reach husbands your energy, too. Instead of hiking thither and yon, you cover more ground with your eyes. It’s strategic. It’s stealthy. It’s productive.
- Get good socks and boots. I’m appalled at the hunters who hit the hills with footgear that blisters and binds. How can you cover ground like a wolf when you’re hobbled like a three-toed sloth? Find boots that provide ankle support, cut into hillsides, cling to rocks, don’t slip on wet grass, keep your feet dry and feel like running shoes.
- Dress to last. I’ve seen hunters give up because they’re too cold and wet, but also because they’re too hot. A parka at dawn becomes an overweight oven at noon. Learn about the warmest, hydrophobic fabrics and dress in layers that let you peel down and pile up to stay functional throughout a wide swing in temperatures.
- Become a naturalist. Dan Boone wasn’t the best deer hunter of his era because he carried a superior rifle. He was a complete woodsman. A key to success is knowing your game, how it lives, what it eats, when it ruts, what it says, where it goes. Knowledge is power. Read. Watch. Study. Learn. Apply. You can be a poor shot but successful hunter if you really know your game and how to approach it. Woodsmen rock.
- Carry a pack. Most hunters wear a pack, but don’t use it to advantage. A daypack should be large enough to hold everything you need for success and survival. When you know you have a flashlight, you’re not afraid to stay out until full dark. When you have the right screwdrivers, you can repair bows and guns. When you have matches, you can start a fire and warm up enough to finish out the day. Think of everything you’ll need. Pack it. Carry it.