As I mentioned in a previous post, we are currently in the “offseason”, as it relates to hunting. It is a busy time of year though, and spring hunts are already starting to ramp up. Before we know it, it will be July, and the major western hunting seasons will be just around the corner.
If you’re like me, and hunting is always on your mind, then I have 5 things you must do this offseason before the hunts arrive:
- Prepare your gear
- Practice, practice, practice
- Educate yourself
- Spend time with family
Prepare Your Gear
We all know that hunting buddy that shows up for opening day of the hunt, and he hasn’t shot his gun or bow since the hunt last year. I’m not going to lie; I’ve been that guy before. The hunt didn’t turn out very well for me that year. So my first thing that you must do this offseason is to prepare your gear.
I always start with my backpack. That is where most of the things I take on a hunt with me are, and I like to make sure those things don’t get misplaced between hunts. Go through your entire bag and clean it. This time of year is a great time to make sure that your bag is in good working order, and ensure that you don’t need to replace it before the season’s start ramping up again.
The next piece of gear I focus on is my gun or bow. I shoot my guns quite a bit, whether it’s the season or not, so I clean mine several times throughout the year. However, this may be a good time to clean your gun, especially if it’s been a while. My bow gets quite a bit more attention though. I will usually take it into my local archery shop and have them go through the entire thing for me. I wish that I could do this work myself, but I don’t have those skills, and the guys that I have work on my bow know exactly what they’re doing. Plus, they have the tools and press to do the job right. Usually, it’s just some tuning and adjusting, but there will be those years when you need to put a new string on, replace fletching’s or arrows, or it may even be time to upgrade. Guns and bows are your primary tool while hunting; give them the attention they deserve in the offseason.
A few other pieces of gear I recommend going over include sleeping bags, tents, boots, clothes, flashlights, and any other gear that gets used frequently throughout the hunting seasons. The other thing that I enjoy doing this time of year is reloading bullets. I still need to get my setup all put together in my new house, but this is a great time of year to get all those loads made up for when deer, elk, bear, and coyote season get going.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Your gear is all ready to go. You’ve replaced the string on your bow. You’ve reloaded hundreds of bullets to use when the season starts. Now it’s time to practice. Travis Moore, in a recent post I did, discussed the need to practice 1,000 times, and then do it again. I try to teach my son these things, especially when it comes to baseball. He has amazing talent when it comes to baseball, but it’s all-for-not if he doesn’t put in the practice. The same goes for hunting.
Whether you’re hunting deer with a bow or bear with a rifle, you have to practice to be successful. I feel there are two main reasons for this. Practice builds muscle memory. Similar to hitting a ball, your mind and body must use muscle memory when shooting a bow. You have to spend hours and hours going through fundamental practice sessions so that when you’re at the plate or drawing back on the bull elk of a lifetime, your body can run through its memory and you perform as excepted. The other reason that I feel this is extremely important is confidence. If you’ve ever been that unprepared hunter, you know what it’s like to pull up on an animal and not know where exactly your bullet or arrow is going to hit. That plays on your mind, and I can almost guarantee you are going to miss that animal. On the flip side, if you’ve practice hitting a dinner plate sized target at 700 yards with your rifle, your confidence will be through the roof.
If you train your body and have the confidence needed, you will be a more successful hunter. I heard a quote recently that stated, “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” Meaning, if we’re prepared, and we put ourselves in the right places to have opportunities, luck will be on our side.
You may be thinking to yourself, why would cooking be on this list? Let me explain. There are many reasons that we hunt. We love certain animals, and we love hunting them in the terrain in which they live. Love harvesting big mature animals that we can show our buddies. We love to create memories that we can share with our friends and family. Those are all great reasons to hunt, but at the end of the day, we hunt to feed our families. And if we’re doing this to feed our families, then we need to learn how to use the meat that we harvest.
I love my parents, and I loved the food I grew up on, but I swear that every time we ate game meat, we cooked it the same way. I’m not complaining, my dad cooked it in a way that tasted amazing! I loved it! But, there are many other ways to utilize the meat we harvest. I recently posted about Venison Street Tacos. Those things are amazing, and they provide an additional way to use the meat. You can also grind the meat up to make burger, jerky, and sausage. The possibilities are endless with wild game meat, and this time of year is a great time to try new and different ways to cook it. Plus, you’re going to need to save some money for your upcoming adventures; this saves you from having to buy beef at the store.
Similar to preparing your gear, educating yourself is something that’s better to do before opening morning. I’m a bit of a nerd, and I love to study statistics, draw odds, migration patterns, maps, and much more. Am I saying that because I do this I’m the best hunter in the world? Absolutely not! But there are things you’re able to learn that will save you time and might make you more successful down the road.
If you’re going to a new state, unit, or area within a new unit, take the time to learn everything you can about that new place. Go to onX Maps and learn where the public and private lands are located. Call your local wildlife biologist and ask them questions about the area. This is a resource that I had never used before moving to Colorado. I knew, or at least I thought I knew, the areas that I hunted in Utah so well that I didn’t think I needed them. They are excellent resources though, and I’m amazed at how much they are willing to tell you about the areas.
One of the best ways to educate yourself about an area is to hop in the truck and go check it out. Escouting, phone calls, and forums can only tell you so much about an area. Get outside and get to know the landscape, the habitat, and the wildlife that you’ll be pursuing. This is the best way to educate yourself.
I would also recommend educating yourself with your gear. Hunters are gear junkies, and we buy something new every year. I’m yet to buy myself anything this year, so I better get to the store. But make sure you’re educated with both your old and your new gear. Again, this just sets you up for success when the time comes.
Spend Time with Family
This may seem like an odd thing to put on this list as well, but I believe it’s the most vital thing you can do in the offseason. If you’re a hunter that has kids old enough to go with you on every hunt, that is wonderful for you. I am not to that stage in life yet, and my 2-year-old little girl is not a fan of sitting still. So she doesn’t get to ride along with me on my hunting adventures just yet.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and they were talking about the days they spend away from home each year. Now, these are professional hunting guides that make their living hunting, but they were spending hundreds of days away from their families each year. But even if you’re not a professional hunting guide, I feel the principle still applies.
I have put in for several hunts this year across 3 different states. And have the possibility of drawing 8 tags for this fall. I won’t draw all of those tags because I’m one of the unluckiest people in the world, but the possibility is still there, and I’m truly hoping to at least draw 3 or 4 of them. Even with 3 or 4 tags, that is going to require a lot of time away from my family. I need to take the time now to spend with them. Does that mean we sit at home and do nothing? Definitely not! Shed hunting is a great thing to do as a family. Even my two year old can hop in the child carrier backpack, and we can hit the hills. Of course, here in Colorado, we have to wait until May 1st to get out there. But you get my point. Spend time with those you love, that way when you get to leave for weeks at a time to go hunting, you know you’ve made the most of your time at home.
There are definitely a lot more than 5 things you should do this offseason, but I recommend you do the items listed here. These things will not only make you more successful in your hunting adventures, but they will also bring a lot more joy to them as well. It’s time to get to work.
Happy Huntin! For more articles check out my blog at www.xtremehuntin.com