Hunting season is thankfully right around the corner once again and most all of us couldn’t be happier about it. If you’re like us, if you’re not hunting, you’re thinking about hunting and looking forward to the next time you get to go. Part of the fun of hunting is the preparation, followed by the actual hunt and then the memories that were made. It’s hard to think of anything that can ruin the hunt, but things can happen. Some of them are completely out of your control, such as weather, but there are times when you can really just blow it. Do yourself a favor and learn from these five hunting mistakes you don’t want to make.
Don’t forget to practice
It does not matter what type of hunting you’re doing, of how long you’ve been doing it. You simply MUST practice with your equipment well before the season starts. If you’re bowhunting, your body must be able to cleanly make the shot time after time, and in a multitude of conditions. It is your responsibility to make a clean, ethical killshot and that takes practice.
Regardless of what some will say, too, you even need to practice with a crossbow. Firearms, whether it’s a rifle, pistol shotgun or muzzleloader, require the same commitment to practice. Not getting in the practice time is a huge mistake. Imagine having that buck of a lifetime walking under your stand and you fumbling with your bow even more than you would from buck fever. The buck hears your and bounces off before you even get to full draw, or worse – you make a hasty, poor shot and wound it, but are not able to retrieve it. How sickening would that be?
You can help alleviate the chances of making this mistake by getting out right now and getting in a few shots. Get a good target and that’ll make your practice time even more productive. A Rinehart 3D buck makes a great and cost-effective target that can help get your archery skills honed. Practice makes perfect and helps avoid a heartbreaking mistake.
Scout, scout and scout some more
I remember my first deer. I went hunting with some friends and was in an area I had never scouted before – but my friends had. It was by pure luck that a buck happened to walk past, and after I shot it, I spent some time walking around the area and realized there was no sign anywhere. It was blind luck that I got a deer at all. Not doing any scouting is a huge mistake, but with scouting comes chances for other mistakes, too. You need to scout smart.
Trail cameras make scouting easier than ever, while still keeping the spirit of fair chase. Cameras give us the option of seeing deer and deer behavior like we can never do in person. Current technology, like cellular trail cameras and solar-powered battery options allow us to scout with minimal human intrusion into the deer habitat. You don’t even have to buy a new camera to make your current one cellular, either, thanks to Spypoint’s Cell-Link camera adapter that plugs into your current camera’s SD card slot. It couldn’t be any easier to make your cameras cellular and improve your scouting ability in minutes.
Dude, you stink
No offense, but we all stink. The big mistake we make is not doing anything about it. There are some parts of our stench we can’t really control. Breath is a big one. You can help it by brushing your teeth just before you go out with a good mint toothpaste, since mint is a naturally growing plant. Dead Down Wind makes a scent-killing mint toothpaste just for hunting. You should also wash with scent-free soap, and wash your hunting clothes with scent-free detergent. From there, store them in a plastic tote, or one of the cool, new ozone-generating enclosures. If you can’t opt for that, keep your hunting clothing outside. My uncle used to keep his stuff in the barn, and he killed bucks every year. It’s also important to control your boots and how you walk into your stand. There’s more to scent, though, than what you wear, which leads us to our next mistake…
Play the wind
Since there is no way you can eliminate 100% of your human odor from a deer’s nose, you need to know your wind. Not playing the wind is a huge mistake we can try to avoid. I say try to avoid because we can’t always predict when the wind will shift, swirl or otherwise mess up a good hunt. Ask waterfowlers about that, too. It happens. The best defense is a good offense, though. Have a back-up plan. I have two stands over every food plot, one facing northwest and one facing southeast on the opposite side. This lets me play the wind to the best of my advantage. Does it always work? No, but that’s hunting. I keep a wind checker with me whenever I’m hunting, and yes, that includes waterfowl. A powder one that is scent-free works best for me, as I don’t have to touch it and I can track it further. I also track the weather on my phone, so I can see if there’s any changes coming.
Don’t forget why you hunt
The biggest mistake we often make is forgetting why we hunt. I’ve known guys who get so mad at themselves if they don’t get the buck they were after, or worse, get mad if someone else gets the buck they wanted. There has also been a trend of buck shaming going on that needs to stop. Don’t be judgmental of other hunter’s deer. If you wouldn’t shoot it, ok, but don’t bring someone down because he/she did.
Don’t put undo pressure on yourself to take a massive buck, either. Seeing a massive buck can make us do stupid things, like poaching. This mistake is a no-brainer. Just don’t do it. And if you’re on public land, don’t use another hunter’s stand. Yes, it’s on public land so it’s fair game. That doesn’t make it cool. Follow all the regulations in your state for the hunt you’re doing. You may not agree with them, but it’s the right thing to do. Remember, hunting is fun. We hunt because we enjoy it. Don’t make the worst mistake you can make as a hunter and forget to do just that.