In today’s society, the desire for instant results and success has exponentially increased as we creep further and further into the 21st century. Being a consistent, successful DIY public land hunter is like any other sport. It takes time and repetition to become skilled at and never can be truly mastered.
As life and our society shape and mold us each individually, unfortunately, we are led astray from a trait that is most important in becoming a better hunter—patience. Patience is a general term and covers a lot of bases, but all the years guiding or stalking scenarios I failed in were due to a lack of patience. Patience plays a role in every hunting scenario.
When do you move? How fast do you move? Do you have the willpower to wait out a scenario that is out of your control? Do you get frustrated easily? You guessed it, frustration leads to short patience. I encourage you to focus on your patience and develop some personal ideas where you can work on your patience in everyday life. If you can fight the societal norm and become more patient, you will see your success rates increase.
We’re Talking about Practice?
Yep, everybody needs to practice. You need to sight your bow in. You need to know what your effective range is. You need to practice and train muscle memory. But, practice on its own does not make you a better hunter or translate to punched tags. I don’t care if you’re a duck hunter, a rifle hunter, a bowhunter or a varmint hunter. Practice only does so much for you.
In 2002, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers had a what–is–now–famous press conference. The 76ers were just knocked out of the playoffs, and a reporter hounded him with a few questions about why he missed a practice session. He ranted to the reporter about how little effect missing a day of practice would have on the season.
“I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, man! Not a game! Not a game! Not a game! We’re talking about practice, man.”
Practice proves that your weapon is sighted in, muscle memory is developed and you hit a pie plate every time at 70 yds. There are a lot of ways you can imitate a real life situation through practice on 3D targets, but it still doesn’t suffice for the real deal. Shooting at live animals under pressure with several variables not in your favor just can’t be replicated punching foam. So, what is the moral of the story here? Go hunting! Hunt as much as possible. Get doe tags, video your friends’ hunts, become a guide and find hunts to do in the off-season. Learn as much as you can about the animal you are hunting and spend as much time in the field as humanly possible. The more repetitions you have in hunting situations, the better hunter you will become!
Fitness – Do You Even Lift, Bro?
It seems the new era of perceived “hardcore” hunters has evolved into fitness nuts with a need to get chiseled in the gym. Let me just say it: Getting jacked in the gym has nothing to do with being in hunting shape. Some of the best proven hunters I know probably never lifted a weight in their lives. Instead, they are in the field hiking, scouting, shed hunting and learning country with a backpack on rather than worrying about getting a pump in the gym. I can guarantee you guys like this out hunt the majority of hunters and will outsmart even the wisest buck or bull long before anybody else will. But, going to the gym isn’t a bad thing! If you do hit the gym, focus on core strength and flexibility. This will help you get into mountain shape all that much faster.
Keep it simple stupid (K.I.S.S) is a term I’ve heard applied to everyday life by many people, so why not apply it to hunting? Don’t overthink your tactics or gear. Specifically, the less thinking you have to do under pressure, the better. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I can tell you from experience your overall efficiency and effectiveness in a variety of hunting situations will increase. Examine your tactics and strategy, and find ways to simplify them. Your increased success will show!
The Moral of the StoryThe secret is, there is no secret. Becoming a better hunter takes time and repetition. For most, it takes a lifetime to become proficient at. Take notes on what worked and what didn’t on each hunt with the intent of shortening the learning curve for future hunts. Hopefully, I’ve left you with some points to think about from a different point of view than you’ve heard before. If you apply the points discussed in this article, you will become a better hunter.