Hunting is a sport and a lifestyle that takes a lifetime to master… and even then there are still plenty of lessons to be learned. Whether you are hunting deer or elk, antelope or turkey, your prey is incredibly smart and always seems to be one step ahead of you. So how is a hunter to grow and learn so that he or she can be better than last season? Here are 7 steps to becoming a better hunter:
Improve Your Fitness Level
Okay, this is a no-brainer since you are on a hunting/fitness website. However, fitness truly is a key ingredient in becoming a better hunter. By improving your physical conditioning, you can go farther and hunt harder, thus seeing more country and having more opportunities. Additionally, increased conditioning sharpens your mind so that you can think more clearly when the adrenaline really hits.
Evaluate Your Gear
There was a time when I thought whatever was on sale was good enough. After spending 20 years hunting, I have come to completely reject that way of thinking. While you may not be able to afford the very best, you should seek to replace your worn out, used up gear with the best that you can afford. When it comes to hunting gear, you really do get what you pay for. Quality gear will help you focus on the hunt, not on the headaches associated with lower quality.
Try Something New
I spent my young life hunting with a rifle. Later, I started using a muzzleloader which brought its own set of challenges. What I found was that hunting with a muzzleloader made me a better rifle hunter as well. Then, I started bowhunting which brought its own challenges. I found that I was a much better rifle and muzzleloader hunter once I began learning the skills of bowhunting. Trying something new will make you better at the things you are already accustomed to doing. If you want to grow as a hunter, try a new challenge this year.
Reading is a great way to sharpen your mind and increase your knowledge base. You should be reading at least one book at any given time in your life. Choose a hunting=related book every now and then to grow your hunting knowledge. Right now, I am reading American Buffalo by Steven Rinella. By reading a book about wildlife written by a guy who I respect as a hunter and conservationist, I am learning about hunting and conservation. This will only help to grow me as a hunter. You should do the same.
Spend time watching other hunters and how they do things. Be careful though! There are a lot of hacks out there who somehow got a tv show even though they clearly don’t know much about hunting. Watch the pros who have been around for a long time. Also, watch those whom you know personally; go on a hunting trip with those who you respect as hunters and observe how they do things. This will go a long way in growing you as a hunter.
There is an old saying: A wise man has something to say… A fool just says something.
Surround yourself with people who have gained wisdom from decades of hunting experience. Listen to what they have to say and do your best to put into practice what they say. Be careful, however, to not just listen to anyone. Make sure that those whom you are learning from have the experience to back up their claims.
This one is not so fun, but it is by far the most effective way to learn and grow. When you fail, you learn. Period.
The very best way to grow as a hunter is to go hunting. While you may not come home with a filled tag every year, you will learn more in that one hunting trip than you could all year long with the other 6 ways mentioned above. You should never neglect any of the above mentioned tips, however experience is the most effective teacher of all.
Will following all of these tips guarantee a filled tag this fall? Maybe not. However, it will guarantee that you will have more knowledge, more experience, and more skills so that you can be in the best position possible to fill your tag this fall.