7 Skills Modern Hunters are Lacking

I vividly remember sitting in a Bowhunter Education class in Millington, TN back in the early 90’s. I remember the gear we used, the smell of the textbooks on the table, and the words of wisdom shared by the instructors. I remember the instructor talking about how quickly hunting gear and technology was changing. He encouraged us to stay focused on the basics, regardless of how far technology takes us. Now, nearly 30 years later, I’m seeing what that instructor warned about. I see how technology has taken us farther and made things faster. Unfortunately, I also see how technology has made us dependent. Young hunters are growing up not knowing what it’s like to have every answer at their fingertips. iPhone apps have replaced blood, sweat, and tears. Hard work and wisdom through experience are becoming a thing of the past as the answers to life can now be found in an instant with a quick search of Google or Youtube. Don’t get me wrong. I use these tools on a daily basis. But I also realize that for all the good they do, they are partially to blame for the lack of skills now evident in the life of modern hunters. What skills might those be? Here’s a look at 7 Skills Modern Day Hunters are Lacking.

The Ability to Score on Private Land Access

Sure, large hunting leases have made it tough to score on private hunting land permission these days, but there are still acres to be hunted that require nothing more than a solid handshake and a sincere ask. “It’s all leased up,” they say. “Nobody lets you hunt on their ground anymore.” The reality is, people still let you hunt on their ground. You just have to ask. Sadly, the thought of walking up to a stranger’s house, knocking on the door, shaking the landowners hand and engaging in a solid conversation scares most younger generations to death. Yes, texting and communicating through social media are to blame. But if you’ll dig down deep and tap into some old-fashioned people skills, you’ll score on more private land to hunt.

Gaining permission to hunt on private land can be as simple as helping around the farm and applying some old-fashioned people skills.

Woodsmanship

My 15-year-old daughter learned to identify trees as part of her freshman Ag class this past year. I was impressed – and jealous. I never learned those basic skills in a class at school. My tree identification has always been weak. I’ve learned enough of the basic trees that feed wildlife, but I struggle with the rest. I wish I’d have learned these early on in my hunting career. Knowing your trees, how the property you hunt lays out, navigating the woods, fields or mountain without some gadget or map, when to move on game, how to read an animal’s body language, knowing weather patterns, wind movement, scouting and so much more are essentials every hunter should know. Few skills will help you in the hunt like woodsmanship. Unfortunately, this is one of the skills that modern hunters tend to lack the most.

todd-with-rubs

The ability to scout, read sign and make a strategic move in the woods on deer is a skill that many hunters are missing.

 

Grit

A good friend of mine, Cody Marshall, is a gritty hunter. He’s not scared of doing things the hard way to achieve his goals. When I asked him about what modern hunters are lacking these days, he quickly responded with, grit. “We have it easy compared to back in the day,” says Marshall. “Dudes are sticking booners from tents with fans, Thermacells, ozone generators, heaters, hand warmers and more, all while wearing super-light maneuverable clothing. The development of “aids” or “props” has ultimately softened us. We have all this special lightweight gear and clothing…Daniel Boone had mocassins.” Do you have what it takes to stay in the hunt, no matter the cost? It takes grit.

cody-marshall-west

Do you have the determination and grit to have the best of times, even in the toughest of times?

Knowing How to Hunt the Wind

I remember some years back when a scent control apparel company had the slogan, “Forget the wind, just hunt.” It was the biggest bunch of marketing crap I’d ever heard at the time. But it’s not uncommon to hear similar comments about scent control and scent elimination products today. If you believe everything you see and hear from marketing campaigns, you’ll fall into thinking you simply have to wear this, or spray your clothes with that, and you’re good to go. Despite popular opinion, knowing how to hunt the wind doesn’t happen at the push of a button. Learn how the wind rolls through your property. Know how deer travel, feed and bed on a variety of winds where you hunt. Learn the skill of how to hunt the wind and you’ll kill more critters.

wind-direction

You might be surprised how many hunters couldn’t tell the wind direction and where to hunt without a smartphone app.

Patience / Ability to be Bored

Boredom is a thing of the past these days. We have pretty much wiped “waiting” off the face of the earth. A smartphone in our hands means we can constantly feed our eyes and mind with content, regardless of whether we’re sitting at a redlight, on the crapper, or in a treestand. We no longer know what it means to be bored. Try and find a hunter that isn’t on social media or playing on the phone during their hunt. They’ll be few and far between these days. Sadly, sitting still and quiet in the stand without the distraction of a gadget has become a skill. Don’t believe it? Just leave your phone at home next time and see how it goes.

skills modern hunters are watching - walking-out-lonewolf

Can you hang in the treestand for long hours or do you get bored quickly and head back to the truck? Patience is a virtue many hunters are missing these days.

Field Ranging

Thanks to laser rangefinders, rangefinding binos, rangefinding bow sights and scopes, we no longer have to have the skill of ranging targets in the field. It’s all done for us. Some say it’s no big deal, but I’d say it’s only a matter of time before this one will cost you big time. It became real obvious to me how big a deal this was at one of our recent youth bowhunter camps. I asked a couple kids to range a few targets for me. They about had a meltdown when I told them they couldn’t use the rangefinder hanging around their necks. Sadly, they couldn’t tell the difference in 20 yards and 40. They were completely dependent on the crutch hanging around their neck. This is such an easy skill to practice. Everywhere you walk you can be guessing the distance to an object before walking it off. There’s no excuse for lacking the skill of field ranging.

skills modern hunters are lacking - Rangefinder-Pile

You can have a pile of rangefinders in your arsenal, but can you judge distance in the field without them?

Humility

Call it a skill, character quality, whatever – the bottom line is, humble hunters seem to be in the minority these days. Arrogance among the hunting industry, outdoor TV, and social media runs thick. If I had a dollar for every wannabe hunting rockstar I’ve unfriended or unfollowed in recent years, I’d have nearly enough for a pretty sweet hunting roadtrip. The attitudes and egos are enough to make you sick. Everyone’s looking for a pat on the back these days. They want the world to see that they ran faster, shot their bow farther, or killed an animal bigger than the next guy. It’s been said, “Pride comes before destruction.” The hunting community needs more humble hunters. There was a time when the animal got the attention, and God got the glory when success came our way. I sure do miss those days.

Skills Modern Hunters are Lacking – Conclusion

Regardless of where you stand on the topics mentioned above, you can change. We all have room for improvement as we strive to be more effective every time we step into the woods.

Let’s hear from you! What are some skills hunters seem to be lacking these days? Comment below and let us know what you think.

Brodie Swisher

Brodie Swisher

Editorial Manager at Bowhunting.com
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
Brodie Swisher

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Comments

  1. John Torchick says:

    I have to agree with these various areas showing the lack of skills, etc. Mainly I feel lacking are patience, woods craft, and going back to the basics. How did we get deer before all this stuff that “we have to buy to be successful?” My son and I rented a video many years ago- the guy was i a tree stand with a camo shirt and jeans. No mention of scent destroyer or anything else. I recall seeing a video of a hunt where the tower blind had everything but indoor plumbing. Yes, it had a TV and CD player! Might as well hunt from an RV with central heat and A/C. Wind direction? Knew a guy who tied a piece of yarn just behind the broadhead. No resistance to the shot and he could read direction with no visible motion as spraying some fine powder or whatever into the air. Leases are growing by leaps and bounds. A good friend lost a lease because he got outbid by another hunter(s). The trick is to take advantage, whenever and wherever possible, to hunt WMAs or other land open to public hunting as timber tracts. I have some WMAs close by, but they are heavily hunted. Other places are a bit farther but I have hundreds of acres of land available. Brodie, thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    Reply
    • Brodie Swisher Brodie Swisher says:

      Thanks for the words, John!

      Reply
  2. The only thing I would add, Brodie, is how to sharpen a knife. Blows my mind that greater than 50% of the hunters I know can’t sharpen a knife with a whet stone and leather strop.

    Reply
  3. Oklahoma Joe says:

    Nice one, Brodie. Too bad I can’t “dog ear” this page for future reference. Guess I’ll have to save it to my favorites.

    Reply
  4. Martin Murdock says:

    Brodie, I am 56 years old. Most (Men & Women) ,in my similar age group or older, grew up playing outside. Physical skills (Body & Mind) was self taught to go a whole lot further than most young adults of today. Most of us ,daily, did things like swimming, riding bicycles & working with common tools. Most problems, that was put in front of us, we concurred. Everything was taught by asking parents, friends or teachers at school.
    Today, our young adults as well as me & you, are so busy digging for “Whatever” ,on the computer or 100’s of TV shows, that the common life we all was brought up under is slowly disappearing. “Whatever” is viewed on TV or on the computer, we all take interest in, but few do not know the proper path to achieve.
    Proper hunting is achievable, Sky-Diving is achievable, both to be achieved “Appropriately” takes “Dedication & Teaching”.
    Most “Sky-Divers” will “Pray” before diving.

    All “Hunters” should “Pray” before killing.

    My prayers are for “You”. Good Luck !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

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