Tips for a Successful, Safe Hunting Season

I don’t know about you folks, but the cool, crisp air, scent of foliage turning and the months of September, October, November and December are my favorite months. It’s no secret that I’m a northern-Minnesota boy who doesn’t like the heat, so bring on the cool temps common to fall.

More importantly, each state opens up its borders for people to chase game during their respective hunting seasons. Ah, now you get why I love these autumn months. If only I had enough vacation time to take them all off.

I’m an engineer by schooling and trade, so most things for me are pretty black and white. Not much gray where I operate. Process, you ask? Oh, there’s a process for everything. And the reason for that is to promote success. I’m a tried-and-true believer of setting goals, drafting a checklist and then going after it. What is my success rate in the field? Take a look at my freezer – it’s never empty.

Hunting Checklist

To prepare for each hunt, here are a few things I do that perhaps you can adopt, modify or toss out as you see fit that may help you be more successful this season.

#1 Maintenance

Big term; I get it. But it begins with maintaining your firearms and bows. Look them over. Are there loose components or dented, damaged parts? Fix them in the off-season. I can think of no situation where the game you are hunting will stand around while you fix your busted-up gear.

Deer hunting tipsMaintenance doesn’t stop with your weapons. It continues with your stand, blind or whatever you call the vantage point from which you hunt where you come from. Make sure they are operational. There’s no point sitting in a ladder stand the creaks. And, how did you get to your hunting destination? Likely your ATV/UTV or your truck. Make sure those items are in operational shape before heading out. Nobody wants to get stranded miles from home. As a friend of someone who made the S.O.S call from a broken-down wheeler way back in the bush, I can confidently say, “Maintain your gear!”

#2 Safety

What’s the first thing you learned from your father, mother or grandparents about your firearms or bows?

Safety.

That’s right. Safety includes more than just making sure you don’t point your gun at someone else, whether it’s loaded or unloaded. It means making sure your firearm or bow is safe to use in the woods. When’s the last time you restrung your bow? You know that bow strings only last so long, right? You know what happens when a string lets go at full draw? Search that on YouTube and I bet you’ll start paying attention to the age of your string.

Whether it’s your firearm, bow, stand or any other piece of gear, make sure your gear is safe. For your sake, and for the sake of your family. I’ve had friends fall out of stands and break their backs or have their shotguns go off and nearly hurt someone. No risk is worth taking when it comes to hunting.

We’ve covered the two most important aspects before heading out; now comes the fun part: let’s go hunting.

Here are a few items to take along for success:

  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Hat/gloves
  • Packet of hand warmers
  • Matches/lighter
  • Mobile phone (don’t forget to turn off the ringer)

I bring all of these items with me when heading out just in case something happens. I tend to hunt alone, or with my pup, so you have to be able to survive on your own. Every autumn – and this year seems to be worse than other years – I read and hear stories about folks getting lost and rescued days later. Every story could have had a better outcome if the person would have been more prepared with a few of the items above. This doesn’t mean you have to bring everything and the kitchen sink. Just a few items you can stash in your pockets that are very useful if something goes wrong. Your life, and the lives of those who may have to rescue you, is at risk. Don’t be that guy!

Anytime you leave the comforts of your couch, you test your skills. Be prepared. I think I learned that in Boy Scouts decades ago. I promise you your adventures will be far more successful and rewarding if you spend a little prep time before kicking around in the wilderness. Best of luck this season. Be safe.

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