Whether you’re a first-time hunter or a seasoned veteran you need to prepare properly for every hunting trip. As the old saying goes – fortune favors the prepared.
While many hunting variables are based on the terrain you’ll be in, the game you’ll be hunting, and a whole lot more, these preparation tips should be helpful for all situations. We’re going to look at three things in particular:
First, research the game that you want to hunt, and which areas are best for hunting that game. There are all kinds of resources available for you to do this, from browsing through Google Earth to reading up on information posted by local wildlife/game agencies.
Once you’ve found a suitable spot, it’s time to figure out what gear you should bring. We don’t want to go too in-depth on this because the gear you’ll bring can vary significantly depending on the size of your party, the terrain you’ll be hunting in, the game you’re hunting, and your budget. You’ll need some things that are obvious (your weapon of choice, your hunting license, and shelter), and some things that are less obvious (scent-reduced clothing).
#2, Physical Ability
Physical ability can mean a great many things. How much can you lift? How long can you last? How accurately can you shoot? How quickly can you climb? All of this and more could come into play when you’re out hunting.
Prepare yourself! Keep fit. That’s going to mean lifting weights. It’s going to mean doing cardio. It’s going to mean going out into the terrain that you’re planning on hunting in and scouting it. You’ll have to put in the miles, feel how the air sits in your lungs at the elevation you’ll be hunting at, and tread the slopes and falls of the trails and backcountry you’ll be hunting in.
You will, of course, need to improve your shooting accuracy. When possible, it’s a good idea to get targets roughly in the shape of the game you plan on hunting. You might even go so far as to emulate the expected brush in the area, using random objects as “brush”. Put the targets at around the distance you suspect you’d be able to shoot from accurately, and put in the hours.
Hunting is hard work. There’s no sugar-coating it. You’re going to be tired. You might be wet. You’ll likely be hungry. For the best game, you may find yourself awake from dawn until long past dusk, sometimes traveling, other times waiting in silence for long stretches of time.
A great way to prepare yourself for a hunt mentally is to basically assume the worst. Assume you’ll have to travel the greatest distance you can imagine. Assume you’re going to get four hours of sleep every night. Assume that any time you aren’t willing to put in that extra mile, or wait that extra hour, that you’ll be missing out on the best game.
Why should you adopt this mentality? The simple answer is in the old axiom: hope for the best and prepare for the worst. When mentally, you’re prepared for absolute worst-case scenarios, then the things that might have seemed mediocre feel great. When you embrace discomfort and you prepare yourself for pain, it makes the experience that much easier because you’ve already experienced the discomfort mentally. There’s nothing separating you from your goal.
Tips to Prepare for a Hunting Trip
That’s not to say you’re not going to have fun. Whether you’re alone or with your buddies, time spent in the wild, hunting, can be incredibly gratifying. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the experience of bagging the big one – all of this can be truly fulfilling to novices and experienced hunters alike.
They say nothing good comes easily. Whether or not that’s true is up for debate. Here’s one thing that’s certain: when it comes to hunting, pain and pleasure may come in equal measure. When you’ve planned, trained, and prepared yourself mentally, you’ll have a powerful experience no matter what the outcome.