With the fall hunting seasons upon us, here are some tips that every hunter should keep in mind.
Prepare your equipment
Before the hunt, make sure your equipment is ready to go. Take the time to go to the range and make sure your rifle is sighted in with the ammunition you’ll be hunting with, even if it’s the same set-up you used last year. Sometimes, just a little bump can knock your optics off zero. Don’t forget the shotguns either. Make sure your gun patterns well with its choke and shells. The same also goes for your archery gear. Practice with the arrows and broadheads you intend to use afield. A lot of broadheads even come with practice heads. These tips are like your hunting broadheads, they just don’t have sharpened blades. Also, make sure your bow’s strings and cables are in good condition.
Check the weather
I’m always looking at the weather forecast before I go hunting. What are the temperature ranges? Do I need layers? Do I need rain gear? If bad weather does happen to start brewing while I’m out hunting, I’ll check the weather on my Mossy Oak Hunting Weather App from Scoutlook. Storms, and especially lightening, should not be taken lightly. While I’m afield, and if I have cell service, I will continue to check the weather accordingly.
Dress for the weather
This one goes along with watching the weather. Make sure you choose the proper attire for your time afield. In early fall, the temperatures can range quite a bit. Wear layers, and as the day warms up, you can shed some of those layers. Later in the fall and into winter, make sure to wear appropriate baselayers and top off with something that will cut the wind and shed water. When it comes to my waterproof clothing, I insist on GORE-TEX.
When hunting on others’ properties, always leave them the way you found them, or in better condition than before. Don’t leave trash, and if you see some lying around, go ahead and pick it up. If you open a gate to go through it, close it behind you. Respect the property and treat it as if it’s your own. This also is a good rule of thumb for hunting on public land.
Know the area
Know the property boundaries. You probably wouldn’t like if someone walked up on you while you were hunting and they weren’t supposed to be there. So, take the time to become familiar with the property boundaries and the neighboring property owners. If an animal you’ve shot runs onto an adjacent property, make sure you have permission to trail that animal before you cross the boundary lines. This is where your homework pays off. Keep neighbors’ phone numbers in your address book on your smart phone.
Know where other hunters are located
When you’re hunting on a piece of property with other hunters, make sure each of you know where the other one will be. Do not deviate. If you’re on a lease with multiple hunters, an aerial photo can be a great tool. Mark stand locations on the aerial photo and the members can mark or make a note as to which stands they are hunting that day. Then, if another hunter comes in later, she won’t walk up on a stand that is already being hunted. Knowing where the other hunters are situated is a good rule for safety. Let someone know where you will be, and when to expect a call from you or to see you back at your rendezvous point. If something does happen and you need help, they will know where to come look for you.
Pick a good spot
Last, but not least. Be aware of your surroundings when choosing a location to set up. You hate to find out a few days later that you sat in poison ivy. And, sitting down on a cactus or up against a thorn tree can be quite painful. Always check the ground before taking a seat on it. Also, take into consideration the location of the rising or setting sun. If your morning set up has you staring into the bright sun, it will be very difficult to make a shot.
Take a few extra moments to follow these tips, and your adventures outdoors this hunting season will be more enjoyable and successful.
This Marti Davis Afield column was first published Sept. 25, 2014.