Written by Alex Gruin
Habits are very hard to break, especially when they have deemed positive before. A habit begins with a trigger in the brain telling us that this should occur which then is followed by a feeling that we like to receive. In the world of hunting, prior success has given us a feeling of euphoria and due to that, we want to get that feeling again. This feeling is exactly why as hunters, we make mistakes and here are 5 big ones that can impact your season to be deemed unsuccessful.
1. Hunting only from a treestand. Hunters, especially whitetail hunters, love to use a treestand. It’s been what they have used for years and it was something your father and grandfather did as well. I know relatives in my family and some of my friends families that used to have only 1 treestand and every year they shot a deer from their “lucky” stand. While this was successful, it doesn’t mean that you should do the exact same thing every time. Take a look at your property and use different formats such as blinds or spot and stalk hunting to get closer and ultimately harvest your trophy. I promise once you get out of your comfort zone, you will feel the reward and that will become a new habit for you.
2. Not having your gear prepared. A huge mistake is thinking that your bag from last season is a quick pickup and go option. While you might have everything in there, a hunter needs to know exactly where every item is as a mental inventory. Think of this example. I grab my bag and get to the bottom of my stand. The first thing I want to do is hook my bow into a small carabiner for my rope that will lift my bow up to my stand. I usually have it clipped on the outside of my bag but today it’s in a pocket. Now I have to zip and unzip until I find it. (Noise) now I get into my stand and I want to get my bow hook out. Darn, that’s in a pocket too and I think it’s my main bag pocket. I reach in there and find it but on the way out of the bag it clanks against a metal bottle that I had in my bag for scent removal. (Noise) I have to find another small hook for my bag and I can’t find that either. 2 more zips and some more (Noise). As you can see, all of this could be prevented by packing and organizing everything to your preference and ensuring that you know 100% where everything is. It will save you time and make you less noticeable in the woods.
3. Not taking scent control seriously. This goes twofold. The first problem is that some hunters have not fully sprayed down their clothes or kept their clothes clean and go out in the woods. Trust me this scent goes and stays in the woods. Those deer smell you and even if you see them today, tomorrow they will be gone and gone they will stay for a while. You don’t want to educate those deer because in the event you don’t harvest one on the first time you go out, you are really screwing yourself. It’s like spending your savings account and not having anything left for tomorrow. The second part is not seeing or paying attention to the wind before you go out and when you are in the stand. I have checked the wind before I leave the house and also when I got to the woods. I noticed the wind changed or just wasn’t right and changed locations completely. Pivot when necessary and be quick!
4. Not having the right gear. Gear can be your best friend. I couldn’t tell you how often hunters get in the woods and realize it’s a lot colder than they thought. The next 4-8 hours are plain miserable and all that is going through the hunters mind is the elements and when the hunt will be over. You don’t want to be cold and you don’t want to tap out early. The only way to do this is by having the right gear for the snow, rain, and other hazardous weather your might experience. Go the extra mile and have hand warmers, body warmers, and toe warmers to really feel good!
5. Not practicing enough. Too many times do hunters go into the woods and their bows or guns haven’t been shot for weeks or months. There need to be checkups on your weapon every time you go out if possible. Driving your weapon in a case is a safe bet that your weapon will be alright but if you haven’t shot it in weeks, you never know what could have happened. What if you flew? Well, those luggage carriers don’t treat your gear well and they can ruin your sights quickly. Another thing to think about is elevation change. If the air is thicker or thinner from where you usually shoot, your weapon will shoot differently.
At the end of the day, think about the 5 P’s.
Proper Preperation Prevents Poor Performance
Scout, Hunt, Repeat