STACK YOUR ODDS
|"THE HUNTING TRADITION":
The yearly tradition of hunting is like nothing else. Friends and family get together sometimes only for this...the annual hunting season. Its never too late to start if you have not and we encourage you to do so. If you still have yet to experience this we highly recommend it and supporting your public lands.
For the rest of us who have, there is no denying the fire that builds up year after year for the hunting season to begin. The thought of covering endless miles in search of game with weapon in hand, sharing a camp with friends and family every year is what its all about. The anticipation of heading to your old stomping grounds, walking by ravines, "the stump", or rock cropping that has a long history of previous success can put a smile to the face as it does so every year. Getting to your glassing knob or walking into your secluded camp spot for the first time of the year is a satisfying feeling that a lot of hunter experience.
BUT, If you have yet to experience this then don't feel too left out.. its not for everyone and I promise your not missing out... and here is why....
|"YOUR HUNNY HOLE":
"Would if" the reason hunting success rate is only at a 10% due to the bi-product of this very reason above? Today, we hear all to often of the overcrowded mountains during hunting season and people are seeing more hunters and less animals. There seems to be so much complaining. Most of these guy's "honey hole spots" are being ever so invaded by other hunters like ants on an ant hill. They make it sound like their so called "families hunting spot" is being swept out from under them.
I hate to hear it.. not that their spot is being "over run" but the complaining that they are blaming others for their lack of success.
|"STUCK IN A RUT":
You can apply this scenario in every day application, your work, school, your fitness goals, a rocky relationship with spouse or colleague...etc. If a situation is not panning out the way you would like or were expecting, its time to regroup, evaluate, strategize, and plan / prepare for a change... in that order. If this is the case for your hunting spot, its time to stop sticking to the same mundane routine and quit going through the motions. It's time to toss out the old and prepare for a new plan for your future hunting success. Simply put; if your spot is not producing the results you want its time to change spots.
|DON'T WAIT TO HUNT:
I'll take you back to the second paragraph where I talk about the ("anticipation of getting to your old hunting spot..." "the thought of covering endless miles in search of game with weapon in hand ... for the first time of the year").
I underlined it for your right there above... "FOR THE FIRST TIME OF THE YEAR". So many of us rely so heavily on past experiences hoping to have the same future results even if we have not seen success in quit some time. Your past experiences ultimately dictate your future results. So, If your spot isn't producing results you want its time to change. It's time to stop waiting for the season to start only to find the same mediocre results in the area.
|STRATEGIZE / PLAN AND PREPARE:
If you have decided to follow along still, welcome to the strategizing phase! Congratulations you are half way to bettering yourself in the woods for hunting success.
[STEP 1] Here is where you want to set dates to scout (Mid July and early August) (if your season starts in September). Typically 1-2 months prior of your season is a decent time-frame. Account for upper management (wife or boss) to cancel at least one of your days. To try to shoot for more days then not (See illustration below).
[STEP 2] Designate time to E-scout for new areas for the dates you have chosen in step 1. This is accomplished by google earth and or OnX. You will want to drop pins where you think game might be, where you might want to camp and where water might be for refilling supplies.
[STEP 3] Start accumulating gear you might still need to get for your trips; lightweight, multifunctional, and durable (for repeated use) is what to look for. Key gear for me; boots, pack, ultralight shelter, trekking poles and of course means of transportation to get me to the woods. (Shop Ultralight Accessories Here).
a. Check for any recent fires in the area and or road closures before you go.
b. Take lots of pictures to see if it matches with google earth and to familiarize your surroundings (see picture above).
c. Pay attention to thermals and stay undetected from the area you want to hunt. You will want to watch from afar or from what I call, "a birds eye view". Do not trample through the exact area you want to hunt quite yet.
d. Plan to scout at first light and at last light (when most of the critters are out feeding). Make sure your staying productive (glassing / observing) on these trips. Do not nap or sleep through the peak hours (morning, midday, last light).
e. Check for human traffic and its frequency (trash, fire rings, boot tracks, tent spots, tire tracks, cleared trails (cuts)). (picture below shows an old trail that has not been maintained in 4+ years).
f. If you plan to hunt with a buddy, split up scouting different areas (scout solo) to increase your odds in finding game and having alliterative spots.. aka (Stack your odds).
[STEP 4] If you fell in love with the new area, great! Plan to come back again closer to season to check how "busy" the area might get. Ultimately, are camps being put up, has there been an increase in foot traffic on the trail your using and of course is the quarry your after still there? Key tip; I dust off the trail in an area to provide intel on how much it gets used while I am gone (game or humans).
|If these steps seems like to much work, then It's not for your. Nothing worth having comes easy. If its important to you, then you will make time, otherwise you will make an excuse. I can say the same about your fitness level I'm sure as well.
Again, "these scouting trips" are actually days you are hunting (without a weapon of course). I take less days off during the season then I do prior. I pick key dates during season to take off and its typically the first few days of opening season (3 days max), a Friday off to extend a mid season weekend and a Friday off last weekend of season. If you do your research well, your first few days of the opening season is all you need. Learn to stack your odds, DO NOT WAIT TO HUNT until the season opens.
|HARD WORK PAYS OFF:
You may have to do the above steps in multiple areas to increase your odds. The greatest gift of having a spot, its having multiple spots. Not only does this build confidence in your ability but its also provides encouragement. knowing you found something to come back for gives you something to work towards. Knowing the results proves encouragement to keep going and stick it out.. just like anything else in life. If one spot ends up being a bust, at least you know of additional areas to go, even if it take going in the dark (your routes have already been done).
These bucks above had been located early August, relocated in September, and shot opening weekend. Opening day we were already in the perfect spot to execute a shot for these deer. Our tags were filled the first 3 days of the season and this was the first year in this area. We did not run into a single person or a single boot track during our hunt. We will plan on following these same guidelines next year, it never hurt to have addition spots to DOUBLE OUR ODDS for the years to come!