Hunting season is cranking up in the weeks ahead across much of the country. Thank God, the long awaited deer and elk seasons are nearly here once again. You’ve been dreaming about it since the final day of last season. But have you truly prepared? Here’s a look at 12 preseason prep tactics to help you hunt easy this year.
Hang LifeLines and Treestand Accessories Before the Hunt
I love the opening morning jitters. The nervous excitement of that first climb back into the stand is nearly enough to make me pass out. But I hate the frustration of digging through my pack for tree hangers and accessories that should have been in place long before opening day. You have enough to worry about on opening morning. Don’t let the last minute prep of tools compound the problem. Hang your hooks, bow hangers, and other treestand tools before the day arrives.
And don’t forget your LifeLine. Make sure every stand you hunt has a HSS LifeLine in place prior to the hunt. This makes things quick and simple once you arrive at your treestand in the dark. And HSS makes treestand chores much easier this year with the addition of their new Hanger Harness for pre-season stand prep. Check it out at www.huntersafetysystem.com.
Rise Early, Even Before Opening Day
The early mornings of hunting season can take a toll on the avid hunter that hits the woods day after day. You can quickly begin to dread the sound of your alarm clock blaring at 4:00am. That’s why I begin to creep my alarm clock earlier and earlier as we lead up to opening day. It makes things much easier when the opener finally arrives if your body is use to the early wake up call. Your body can and will get use to it. And if you’re as busy as most people, you could probably use the extra hour or two in the morning to knock out tasks around the house or just chill in the quietness of the morning before the kids wake up.
Wear Your Backpack While You Workout
I’ve got an elk hunt coming up soon, and it will once again test my flatlander legs like nothing else. I spent 7 years living in Montana and quickly learned that while you really can’t prepare your lungs for the high country, you can condition your legs to the abuse they’ll take when climbing the mountain. I like to wear my backpack loaded with 30 or 40 pounds of weight added while working out on the elliptical machine. It’s the same concept as when we use to put a donut on the ball bat to swing while we waited on deck during a little league game. The weighted donut made that bat a breeze to swing once we were ready for the real thing. The same principal applies to adding weight to your pack before hunting season. Wear it while you walk, jog, mow the yard, whatever. Just get use to the extra weight on your back and legs.
You also need to know how that back feels on your back and chest. Will the straps be comfy or rub you wrong in all the wrong places? You won’t know unless you try it out. Do that before the hunt.
Make Mock Scrapes in the Summer
We often think of mock scrapes as a tool for the pre-rut and rut phase of the whitetail deer season. Truth is, you can condition your bucks to use mock scrapes now, even in the hot months of summer. That’s right! Bucks will use these mock scrapes long before the rut ever draws near, making them a great option for taking trail cam inventory and conditioning your local bucks to make frequent stops where you want them. Put the Tink’s Scrape Bomb and Power Scrape combination to work on your farm, and watch the show. This is a fun and addicting tactic to put to work on the land that you hunt. Check out www.tinks.com for all the gear you’ll need for mock scrapes.
Use a Bow Training Tool for Holding Practice
I was recently introduced to the AccuBow training tool. The AccuBow was designed to help hunters rehabilitate following an injury, as well as help shooters tighten their groups through holding practice with the unit’s laser. It’s honestly the perfect tool to keep your arms, shoulders, and back in shape, as well as keeping your eyes sharp when at full draw on a target. If you can condition yourself to hold the laser beam tighter on the target, you’ll automatically be holding tighter when at full draw with your hunting setup. Check it out at www.accubow.com.
I also like to practice holding my bow for extended periods of time before making the shot. Think about all those times you come to full draw on a deer and then it hangs up behind a tree, or just shy of your shooting lane. Do you have the muscle to stay at full draw and wait him out? Now is the time to build that strength. Practice holding for a minute or two before dropping the string. Can you make the shot once your arms begin shaking? This is a realistic practice routine to prepare you for opening day.
Shoot Long Distance Practice Targets
You need to shoot long range targets in your practice routine. Not to prepare you for making long shots on the hunt, but to make the short shots seem much easier. I love to shoot 80 yard long bombs in the yard. It’s a fun challenge, and there’s really nothing like watching the flight of an arrow as it flashes toward the target. Do I plan on shooting deer at 80 yards? Nope. I like to shoot them at 15 steps. But I also like to know that when I have a big buck cruise by at 40 yards, I have the confidence built in to be deadly at twice that distance. Stack ‘em tight at 80, 90, and 100 yards, and you’ll find the short range shots to be a cinch.
Wear Your Boots Everywhere
Got a new pair of boots? Don’t save them for opening day. Get them in the mud, on the hills, and in the holes long before season cranks up. Wear them when you’re hot, when you’re cold, when it’s wet, and when it’s really dry. You need to know how those boots will perform. LaCrosse boots have been my go-to boots for deer and turkey hunting from day one. They are hard to beat. And the beauty in these boots is they require no break-in time. They are comfy right out of the box. But I still like to get them out in the woods and in the mud when I get a new pair to get rid of that new-boot smell that often comes with a fresh pair of boots or shoes. See the line of LaCrosse boots at www.lacrossefootwear.com.
Get Your Meat Pole Ready to Go
All the excitement of opening day success comes to a halt when you get home and realize you have failed to prepare for the butchering process.
The temperatures are smokin’ hot and you got a dead deer in the back of the truck. You really don’t want to spend another hour setting up the game hoist and preparing your deer for the freezer. Get things in place before opening day so the chores are quick and simple when you find success. Nothing is as handy as having your game hoist in place prior to punching tags so you can simply back up the truck or ATV and lift your deer in to place.
Shoot Your Broadheads Like They’re Practice Heads
Mechanical broadheads are awesome. I love them. In most cases, they fly like darts, and truly hold up to the claim, “They fly like field points.” But many hunters make the mistake of trusting the company’s sales pitch and never actually shoot the broadhead before opening day. Or, they shoot it one time, like what they see, and then put them in the quiver, and hope for the best. The deadliest hunters will shoot the heck out of those broadheads until there is no question as to how they will perform. You need to know how that head performs in the wind and rain, when you shoot through grass, or when you execute a less than perfect shot. If you’re afraid you’ll tear up your broadheads by practicing with them, then you probably need to be shooting better broadheads.
Shoot Your Bow While You’re Breathing Hard and Shaky
It’s been said many times, practice while your heart rate is running fast. A practice session immediately following a nasty cardio workout can be as close to buck fever as you can simulate in the off-season. A couple dozen Burpees or running up and down a flight of stairs oughta do the trick. Knock them out and then immediately grab your bow to shoot. Learn to make the shot when your heart is pounding, and your arms feel like noodles. It’ll make you a better hunter in crunch time.
Sharpen Your Knife
You’re headed to the woods to kill an animal with your bow. That is the goal. Be prepared to turn that meat into groceries for your family once your tag is punched. More than once I’ve found early season success and scrambled to round up a knife to do work after returning back to the house or camp when my tag was punched. I’ve used Leatherman’s, dull knives, and worse when I wasn’t properly prepared. Nowadays I try to keep at least a couple good, sharp knives ready to roll when I score on game.
Shoot Your Bow While Wearing Your Hunting Clothes
Call it a dress rehearsal or whatever you want, the bottom line is you ought to practice shooting your bow with the same exact setup you’ll be shooting on the hunt. We easily get accustom to slinging arrows from the porch in shorts, tank top, and flip flops, then scratch our heads over why we missed a shot when in full camo, with gloves and mask on. Yes, you’ll look stupid if your neighbor sees you in the yard in full camo and a mask on slingin’ arrows. Big deal. Invite them to come join you, and keep shooting. And don’t skimp on the face mask and gloves. These two items can make or break your shot in the stand. Be sure you know how well you can shoot while wearing these items.
These are just a few of the many items you should be doing now to prepare for opening day. Some may call it overkill. I call it preparing for battle. Prepare now for your best deer season yet with these simple prep tactics.
What about you? Do you have a pre-season regimen? Comment below and let us know how you prepare for opening day.