Practice Your Shooting
It really doesn’t matter what you shoot, whether if it’s a rifle, muzzle loader or bow (compound, re-curve, or long bow) you need to shoot year round. I know it gets very expensive to shoot a rifle or muzzle loader all the time but to stay proficient you need to shoot more than just a couple times a year. That’s not really the case with archery, we can shoot our arrows over and over unless you are a beginner and then you ruin a lot of arrows practicing. I can shoot my Carbon Express arrows over and over as long as I don’t miss and jack up an arrow which very rarely happens unless we are getting stupid and trying almost impossible shots. Another advantage with archery is I can shoot in my back yard and no one cares, but if I started popping off with my 30-06, oh man look out, the cops will be there in a heartbeat with their guns drawn and aiming right at me. For the rifle and muzzle loaders if you can’t shoot a lot during off season you need to at least get out once a month or every other month before season and make sure your gun is still sighted in, plus if your gun is in a gun safe for extended periods of time you might start to have a rusting problem. When you do go shoot you may find something is wrong or broke or something breaks while you are at the range, if it does you can get it fixed before you go on your hunt. I had this happen a few years ago, I hadn’t shot my bow for a couple months because of an injury and when I pulled my bow out of the case and started waxing my string, I noticed that my cable guard slide was broke. I don’t know about you but most of the places I hunt it’s a long drive to a town that may or may not be able to fix the problem. If I wouldn’t have caught that broken slide I would have had a very long drive to find a place that would have one for my bow. The bottom line here is to shoot as much as possible so when that moment of truth comes along you’re ready.
Keeping all your hunting equipment organized is one of the most import things to do that I can’t stress it enough. A lot of hunters when they get home throw everything in the corner of the garage, clean their gun, put it away in a gun safe and they're done until their next hunting season. Well the next hunting season arrives and you are going through everything trying reorganize and make sense of everything when come to find out, you left a pair of used socks in one of the bags, and the worst part of it all is there’s no laundry detergent made on this earth that’s going to take that smell out of everything you had in with those socks. This may be a little over kill but I think you get the picture.
I’m not much different but when I unload my truck I put everything into three different piles. One pile is all my hunting clothes, another is my regular clothes and then the third pile is all my other hunting stuff like my bow, boots, and that sort of stuff. My hunting clothes go straight into the washer and are washed with Hunter’s Specialties Scent-A-Way Laundry Detergent and then hung out side to dry. When it has all dried completely it is all folded and put back into my Hunter’s Specialties Scent Safe Travel Bags with one Primetime Fresh Earth Scent Wafer in each bag. Now I’m ready for my next hunt. I go as far as all my shirts are in one bag, my pants in another, and my coats in another. Each bag is marked so if I’m looking for a pair of pants I don’t have to go through all the bags to find them. While everything is washing I’m putting all my other stuff away down in the basement where it all has its own place, this way when I go looking for something I know where it is. Now my wife will disagree with this but at least I know where it is. If something is broke I will fix it right away and if it’s something I can’t do I’ll get it to someone who can. There’s nothing worse than having something broke and forgetting about it and then as you’re getting everything out and ready for your hunt and you find it, well I know the words you’re going to use because it happened to me and it was a good thing there was no kids around when I found it. If you can fix it, fix it, but if it’s one of those items you can’t fix take it to someone and get it fixed right away.
Everything I have talked about organizing so far has been all about when you get home. Don’t forget about staying organized while hunting. I’m just as guilty as the next when it comes to staying organized. When I get back to camp after hunting all day all I can think of is getting something in my stomach and going to bed. Now the next morning comes and I’m scrambling to get a lunch made, make sure my hydration bladder has water in it and off I go with a pop tart in one hand and a soda in the other. It's really frustrating when you’re about a mile from camp and all of a sudden you hear a bugle and you go to grab your cow call that normally hangs around your neck and it’s not there along with the rest of your calls. Been there, done that, but it only took that one time for me to learn that lesson the hard way.
Check Off Sheet
A check off sheet is something I feel every hunter should have, get one of those generic ones that you find in magazines or at the game and fish department and modify it for you. A rifle hunters check off sheet would be different then a bow hunters as would a muzzle loaders. Some of the items will be the same like your licenses, GPS/Maps/Compass, but a bow hunter doesn’t need blaze orange and a rifle hunter doesn’t need camo. I have my list broke down into categories, day pack, hunting clothing, camp clothing, camp accessories, and camping equipment. Like with my day pack, I have a list of everything I carry in it, my camp clothing is what I wear around camp and it’s broke down as far as how many pair of socks and underwear I bring. It took me quite a while to come up with my lists, but I started with one of those generic lists a long time ago and went from there. Sometimes I may add to the list or I may remove some thing. Once you start don’t stop unless you feel everything you have is sufficient. I’ve been using these lists for a long time and things are constantly changing as to where I’m adding and subtracting all the time. I even have a needs list and a want list. The needs list is stuff I need before next year’s hunt. My want/wish list is a whole lot longer than all my other lists combined. I don’t think I need to explain what kind of list that is but you know, like a new AR15 to whack a few coyotes. Maybe if I’m real good this year Santa might bring me one.
Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight