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Last Minute Preseason Prep

Today is Monday, August 2nd. Archery antelope here in Wyoming opens in 13 days and archery deer and elk in 30 days. In other words, it’s GO TIME! 


If you’re anything like me you try to keep yourself and your equipment in good working order the entire year; shooting, working out, cleaning, prepping and storing gear. However, life happens and sometimes it gets in the way of the needed preparation and finds us scrambling to get it all dialed at the last minute. If that’s where you find yourself this year don’t despair, I’ve got some tips that’ll help you be ready when the bell rings this fall. 


I’m entering this fall coming off a procedure that set me back a bit. My normal summer routine is to ramp up the shooting and mountain time (hiking/rucking, scouting, fishing) before opening day. I haven’t been able to get in as much of those activities as I’d like and the healing process hasn’t been as quick as I’d hoped. So, I find myself “behind the curve” if you will. Here’s how I’m handling it. 


  1. Slow and Steady – I know I’m not in the shape I’d like to be in so being realistic with what I can do and how I do it is step one. If I bite off more than I can chew early on I’m going to get frustrated easily and my mental state will be trash. That said, I’m also going to use my hunting to help me rehab physically and condition my body as the season progresses. That way by the time the elk rut is in high gear and deer seasons are cranking I’m peaking and at the top of my game. As a coach I often saw athletes who started seasons strong but petered out by the end turning in performances below their abilities when they really needed to finish strong. Don’t do that! 
  2. Shooting Fundamentals & Repetition – Now is the time to be shooting! Focus on the fundamentals. Breathing, form, trigger control, follow through; each of these are important and should be worked on as often as possible prior to season. If you haven’t been getting in the reps planned, now is the time! Instead of beating yourself up or getting discouraged make the time to shoot. Lunch breaks can be a great time to get in some shooting practice. It’s a wonderful way to decompress a bit during the workday. Clear your mind and focus on a few perfect reps. I’d rather practice perfectly fewer times than sloppily a bunch. Perfect practice builds the muscle memory you’ll need in the moment of truth. 


Controlling the small things can also help get you fully prepared when opening day arrives. For me those small things are mostly gear related. I need to have my gear prepped and ready well before I’m packing to leave. Nothing guarantees I’ll forget something important more than waiting until the night before to get my gear around. So for me, using the time after my kids are in bed to make sure I’ve not only got what I need but that it’s in perfect working order is vital.


This means making lists and organizing everything; boots, packs, weapons, optics, clothing, shelters, food, kit, etc. I normally have my equipment organized and ready to go weeks in advance so when it’s go time all I have to do is load the pickup and hit the road. I like to pack in large plastic totes, one for clothing, one for gear and one for food. Not only does this help me be fully prepared, it kicks the anticipation into high gear and gets me mentally ready. 


My “Hunt List”

  • Weapons & Ammo/Arrows & Broadheads (don’t forget your archery release!)
  • Optics – cleaned and ready w/tripods and cases
  • Pack – inspected and repaired if needed
  • Clothing – packed and ready in a plastic tote
  • Shelters & Sleep System – inspected and repaired if needed
  • Stove/Fuel/Food – inspected and packed in a plastic tote
  • Kill Kit – knife, blades/sharpener, axe, saw, rope, cordage, game bags, nitrile gloves (in pack)
  • First Aid Kit – one in the vehicle, one in my pack
  • Sundrys – headlamp x2 w/batteries/charger, matches & lighter, fire starter, wind checker, game calls, flagging ribbon (in pack)
  • Coolers – cleaned & inspected



Even if you’re not where you want to be at this point during the preseason it’s not too late to set yourself up for success this fall. Start now, get prepped, get shooting and let the anticipation build, enjoy the process and don’t defeat yourself before you even have a chance to begin. This might just be your best hunting season yet! 


About Todd Helms

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