More than 40 percent of the American population engages in some type of outdoor activity every year. One of the most popular activities that helps people get outside and connect with nature is hunting.
Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned professional, you know that there’s always something new to learn and some skill you can improve upon.
All you have to do is commit to putting in the effort. Here are a few proven hunting tips to help you get better at your hobby.
1. Review State Guidelines First
Regulations can change from year to year and even the most experienced hunters can make mistakes by thinking the same rules as previous seasons still apply. Before you head out on your first hunting trip, take the time to review the guidelines for each type of game you’re hunting.
Make a note of any changes that might make the season different than previous years. Then, review your plans against those new regulations.
You might need to change elements of your kit or modify your planned hunting schedule to fit with the new guidelines. Though the changes can be inconvenient, it’s far better to take your time and make the adjustments before you head out.
If you’re found to be in violation of any state guidelines, you may end up facing fines from the Department of Fish and Game. Worse, you could end up getting your hunting permit revoked.
2. Maintain and Upgrade Your Gear at the Beginning of the Season
No matter what type of gear you use, it needs regular care and maintenance throughout the year, especially after long-term storage. Before you head out for the first hunt of the season, take the time to go through each component in detail.
Take your gun apart and oil each component that needs it. Make sure all housing and components are free of corrosion or damage that might impact your safety and accuracy in the woods.
If you notice anything that’s broken or doesn’t serve your style of hunting anymore, take the time to upgrade your gear. For example, if you’re used to hunting in a blind or stand but are ready to transition to backwoods hunts, you’ll need to invest in the right gear. For most hunters, this means keeping an eye on the weight of each tool they’re bringing.
According to the team at Tier One USA, it’s best to choose the most durable and lightest weight accessories whenever possible. This way, you’ll be able to trek for miles without dealing with severe fatigue before you have a chance to take your first shot.
3. Practice the Art of Stillness
Most novice hunters think that hunting is an incredibly active hobby. While it’s still a good way to get outside and explore nature, there are times when moving can get you in trouble and cause you to lose the game you’ve been tracking.
Seasoned hunters know that one of the most important elk hunting tips is to learn to be calm, collected, and still.
Get in the habit of practicing the art of stillness. Find a quiet spot in your backyard and sit for a few minutes each day. Be mindful of the way you’re breathing and the amount of noise you make as you adjust your position.
If you don’t live in an area where you can comfortably get outside, find a quiet corner of your home, and practice there. The more you can do this at home, the easier it will be when you’re out in the woods.
Remember, silence is a hunter’s best friend. When you can be still for long stretches of time, you’ll find it easier to track game and will improve your success as a hunter in the long run.
4. Watch Where and How You’re Walking
Even the most experienced hunters can get distracted in the woods. There’s so much to pay attention to and watch for that it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re doing.
The most common issue all hunters face is making too much noise when they’re walking. When you get so focused on searching for game and finding those hidden trails, it’s easy to lose sight of how you’re moving.
When you’re out in the wilderness, be mindful of where you’re putting your feet and how much weight you put behind each step. You want to move with light footfalls to disturb less of the brush and leaves on the ground. This helps muffle the noise of your steps.
You’ll also need to vary your pace so you don’t sound human. Remember, game animals are familiar with the sounds in the forest and since human footfalls are different, they’ll often bolt at the first hint of your presence.
When you change the cadence of your steps, you make yourself sound more like an animal and will end up drawing less attention to yourself.
5. Always Check Your License and Tags
No matter what type of game you’re hunting, you need to make sure you have the right permits in place. Before you even schedule your first trip, make sure you have the right documentation in place.
You should have a valid hunting permit and, if you’re hunting game with state-regulated limits, a tag or permit to hunt those types of game. Without either, you risk getting in trouble with the law.
If your hunting license expired, take the time to renew it before you head out. You should be able to do this online or at your preferred hunting supply store.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to hunt out of state, you’ll need to have a license and permits for each state you plan to hunt in. The requirements for each state may vary, so take your time to review them before you submit your application.
6. Practice on Off Days
The best hunters practice during the off-season or on weeks when they can’t spare the time to head out to the wilderness. Do the same.
Head to your local range and get some target practice in with your chosen weapon. The more you can practice and hone your skills in a controlled setting, the better your accuracy will be when it matters.
Remember, there’s no such thing as too much practice. Just remember to keep an eye on your budget. The last thing you want to do is spend more than you should on ammo.
7. Invest in Game Carts to Haul Your Kill
If you’ve hunted before, you know that deer, elk, and large game can weigh hundreds of pounds. Though you don’t have to haul the entire animal away from the kill site, you will still need to move the meat out of the woods.
Even the strongest hunters can get tired long before they reach their car.
One of the best deer hunting tips you can follow is to buy a game cart or sled to make hauling your game easier. The cart allows you to roll the game over rough terrain without forcing you to pack everything out on your back.
If you’re hunting miles away from your car, you’ll be able to make it back to your parking spot without feeling like you ran a marathon.
8. Pack Plenty of Water
No matter what season you’re hunting in, you need to stay hydrated. Remember, hunting is a very physical activity and if you’re not drinking enough water, you may end up putting your health at risk.
Make a plan to pack enough water to stay hydrated throughout your trip. As a general rule, you’ll want to bring at least one gallon of water per person, per day that you’ll be out on the trail.
If you’re hunting in an area with running rivers or creeks, you can bring a water bottle and a high-quality filter to purify water before you drink it. This will allow you to fill your water on the go without forcing you to carry all the weight on your back.
9. Don’t Forget the First Aid Equipment
Accidents happen on the trail whether you’re experienced or a complete beginner. When they happen, you need to be ready.
Make sure you have a good first aid kit on hand before you leave the house. The kit should include bandages, wound cleaning solutions, braces, tweezers, and anything else you deem necessary.
You can pick up a pre-assembled first aid kit at most big-box retailers or you can assemble one yourself to better suit your needs. Just make sure to restock it between trips so you and your fellow hunters can be safe.
Keep These Hunting Tips in Mind
Hunting is a skill that you can always improve over the years. Keep these elk, deer, and forest hunting tips in mind and you’ll see improvements with each trip.
Just remember to prioritize safety at all times. If you feel that an area is too risky or aren’t comfortable working in the terrain, call it quits for the day. It’s better to have a disappointing day out than it is to get seriously injured because you took on more than you could handle.
Looking for more hunting tips to help you hone your craft? Check out our latest posts.