Preparing For The Hunt
Dress For Success
Apparel is the most important factor to hunting comfortably, and more importantly, being around when trophy game finally shows up. Hunters learn early that withstanding the cold is a right of passage, but even if you live in warmer climates, a fierce downpour can have you shivering in no time. Dress with extra layers at hand like Rain Gear if the weather turns, and pay special attention to your feet by wearing tough waterproof boots and thick, warm socks. If you're hunting where heat is a significant factor, then lightweight, breathable apparel is key to staying cool and avoiding heat stroke.
Whether tailored for warm or cold environments, appropriate camouflage is the other important part of dressing for success. Naturally desert pattern camo won't be appropriate for woodland hunts, but choosing the right camo pattern goes much deeper than that. Think about the cover or foliage that you typically hunt around, and find a pattern that best matches that vegetation. For example, if you primarily hunt in a tree stand or sitting next to a tree, then a pattern that mimics tree bark gives you the best chance for success.
Remember, staying successfully camouflaged means looking like you belong. Although universal woodland camo is great for those on a budget, the more you tailor your camo to your environment, the better chance you stand of staying undetected. It's also important to know your face can be your greatest liability, especially when the sun is shining on it. Invest in a high-quality face mask, but make sure it won't affect your ability to aim or shoot. Finally, remember to check hunter orange regulations in your state and add appropriate apparel where necessary.
Stay Aware Of Your Surroundings
Now that you are properly disguised, let's discuss ways to surprise game while keeping the game from sneaking up on you. A good pair of Hunting Binoculars is the first place to start. A pair of reliable binoculars will keep you well informed on what is heading your way, but remember, if you're planning on sitting out in the rain, you'll need a waterproof pair that can sit with you. A monocular or spotting scope can also be used for field survey, but it all depends on your environment. Generally speaking a monocular is great for close range survey while a spotting scope is perfect for extended long range survey. Still, binoculars remain the most versatile choice, and they essentially meet the previous two in the middle.
You can also keep an eye on your hunting spot when you're not around with a trail camera. Trail Camera technology has come a long way in the past few years, and today trail cameras sport exceptional features like the ability to take photos in complete darkness with black LEDs or stream live video via wireless connections. Certain models will even text you up-to-date photos direct to your smart phone. If you add a trail camera to your approach, you'll be hunting with valuable recon at your disposal, but keep in mind trail cameras are not always a prudent choice depending on where you hunt.
Make Your Shot Count
Now that you are in your hunting stand or blind and you are comfortable, camouflaged, and aware of your surroundings, it's time to talk weapons and optics. Choosing a Firearm can be fairly overwhelming, but we'll keep it fairly simple here. First, think about the typical distance that you'll be shooting, and ensure you choose a firearm with adequate range and stopping power for that scenario. Secondly, consider the game you are hunting, and make sure the firearm you select won't cause overkill, especially if you're interested in game meat or mounting the animal.
Range is also the key factor when it comes to selecting the right Rifle Scope or optics. If you typically hunt shorter range for game like turkeys, then a low magnification scope or reflex sight is the right optic for you. However, if you hunt in the high country or typically shoot over 75 yards, then a higher magnification scope will be an invaluable tool for your hunting success. Today medium to long range scopes have variable magnification settings so you can dial up the magnification when you need to, and many models have bullet drop compensators if you ever find yourself making ultra-long range shots. Again, if you plan on sitting out in the rain, you'll need a waterproof scope or sight that can sit with you. You may also want to invest in a laser rangefinder if you hunt and shoot long distance. A rangefinder will take the guesswork out of any questionable shot, and you can compare the zeroed distance of your scope with the range of the animal to give you the best chance for success.
Go The Distance
The final element to consider on your Hunting Checklist is camping gear for extended stays. This may just mean a warm sleeping bag for a chilly hunting cabin, but these days more and more hunters are turning to backcountry camping trips as part of their hunting ritual. If you want to stay out under the stars on your next hunting expedition, you'll need to carry backpacking tents, sleeping bags, water purifiers, and cookware to ensure you have the all the necessities close at hand.
If you follow this simple guide, you can expect a less stressful and more enjoyable hunt, but remember only you can make your shot count. So dress for success, hone your shooting and observation skills, and enjoy the journey along the way. Soon you'll be creating a lifetime of memories every time you set out to hunt.
Basic Hunting Gear Checklist
- Weather appropriate camouflage clothing (extra rain jackets, socks etc.)
- Firearm you can trust and that is appropriate for your chosen distance and game
- Rifle scope or reflex sight appropriate for your hunting environment and shooting distance
- Surveying optics (binoculars, monocular, or spotting scope and trail camera if appropriate)
- Rangefinder for gauging medium to long range shots
- Camping gear for extended trips (warm sleeping bag and backpacking tents and accessories)