It’s about that time. Yes, hunting season is almost here. How do you know if you are ready? You have a tag, but what else do you need? What do you have to do to get ready? Is it as easy as just getting up early opening morning and wandering in the woods until you find the game you are in pursuit of? It can be, but there are so many things you can do to make hunting successful or at least increase your chances of success.
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I have had exactly 27 hunting seasons to prepare for since I started hunting big game. That has given me the opportunity to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I have tried everything from going into the season without any preparation to spending the entire year getting ready.
Think outside the box when it comes to hunting. As humans we are slowly evolving and losing our hunting instincts, so we have to work hard to hone those skills. The game we are pursuing is honing its survival skills every day so we can’t expect to be successful against an animal that practices every day if we don’t put in some time ourselves. Train physically, train mentally, practice and get confident in your shooting and be prepared for any situation and you will have a successful hunt.
Let’s go over what you need to do to increase your chances of a successful hunt.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of hunting you will be doing. Is it spot-and-stalk or stand/blind hunting? If spot-and-stalk, then I would recommend a fair amount of physical training and preparation at least three months out so you don’t get gassed in the woods and miss a shot because of an empty tank. Things like building up endurance – such as long walks or hikes with a pack on, jogging, light weight training, etc. – make a difference. When weight training, think long and lean, not big and bulky. The more weight you carry in the woods, the more oxygen your body has to supply to your muscles to move you up and down the tough terrain.
For both types of hunts, it is a good thing to start preparing mentally, which is something you can do anytime. This is probably the most important piece. Visualizing hunts or scenarios and how you react can really help. Hunting small game or watching hunting shows can help you get that visual on what to do in different situations.
Practicing at the range and getting confident in your firearm and all different shooting positions also is an important piece. How about learning how to pick a spot on an animal and when to take a shot, or even when to not take the shot? I always recommend watching hunting shows and or look in hunting magazines at the pictures for shot placement references. They have good visuals on shot angles and determining if you could or should take an ethical shot.
Practice makes perfect and like I said earlier, the more you put into it, the more you are going to get out of it. The best practice for mental and physical preparation is spending time at the range and small game hunting.
Practice on the Range
When I hunt big game, I use a rifle chambered in 270 Winchester and load it with Fiocchi’s Hyperformance ammo. I spend time figuring out what my drop is at different distances and in different wind. It makes a huge difference in having the confidence of make a good shot versus missing an animal all together or worse, wounding an animal that you cannot retrieve.
Practice Small Game Hunting
In many places, you can hunt small game throughout the year and it can help you learn how to stalk an animal, take aim and shoot better. Fiocchi also makes great cartridges and shells for hogs, coyotes, prairie dogs, upland birds, waterfowl, etc., that I use on many of my small game hunts. You may hunt many of these animals and get great practice in, as well as put a little extra healthy game on the table in preparation for that big game hunt.
Lanny Barnes is a three-time Olympian in Biathlon, as well as a National & World Champion in several shooting disciplines. She is currently teaching courses to military, law enforcement and competitive shooters on physiological and psychological aspects of shooting and is the director of Commercial Sales for HIVIZ Sights. Lanny and her twin sister spend much of their free time traveling around to schools, 4-H clubs, Boys & Girls Clubs, etc., talking to them about following their dreams, setting goals, and leading a healthy active lifestyle. Taking wounded vets and terminally ill kids on hunts through Freedom Hunters and OE4A is also one of Lanny's passions. View all posts by Lanny Barnes
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