I had no idea how much hunting was flying by the seat of my pants! I honestly thought at the beginning of my hunting adventure that it would work out like in hunting shows. Picture this: I am always sitting in just the right spot, bow or rifle in hand and at the ready, and the animal always comes forward and presents itself perfectly broadside and stands like a statue.
That would be incredible, however, this is not reality. If you are a hunter, it would be great to formulate a game plan for your hunt and work your best to set yourself up for what you imagine to be the perfect scenario. On the flip side, be capable of rolling with the punches and do your best to make the most of an opportunity when there may not be a great one.
Tip #1 on Hunting:
My first tip on this is to consider any approach that an animal might make during your hunt. I have been surprised MOST times when an animal honestly appears out of thin air out here in Utah. The squirrels make more noise than a bull elk many times. The perfect example was just a few weeks ago. I was tucked beautifully into a makeshift blind of fallen timber in between two pines. I had a fabulous vantage point of a meadow with a wallow in it. And, I was hunting for my first branched bull elk.
As I sat, I heard one snap and then another minute later another that sounded closer. My bow was quite close and ready to be grabbed, but I was trying to remain as still as possible. If I am searching for movement, you can bet your sweet behind that animals are looking for any movements, as well.
I had in my mind the largest open lane that an elk would just magically walk through to present themselves for my flying arrow. s fate would have it, a large bull elk approached from my far right and sauntered just inside the tree line so that I could see his large body but he NEVER presented himself for a shot. He honestly came through the thickest and most scraggly scrub, branches, and crowded mess of a tree line that I could imagine. Most of all, he did this with barely a SOUND! I had dismissed this side due to it looking so gnarly. I could have possibly had a chance on him if I had not been so focused on what I thought would happen.
Tip #2 on Hunting:
Secondly, try to figure out what you might be able to do to turn the tables on your hunt. If you notice that your animal continues to evade you and you aren’t quite sure what to do differently, perhaps switch up your tactic. If you usually spot and stalk, perhaps try to post up in a frequently well-used game trail. Perhaps even try a climber stand if you feel like you just need to have a different vantage point to stay out of their obvious smell and sight line.
I had a recent hunt where I had to decide to duck walk or belly crawl for at least 300 yards through a scrub and desert drainage wash to close the distance on a group of antelope that would not allow me to gain any distance closer than 500 yards before they ran like crazy to get another several hundred yards away from me. The decision was made to try and sneak up as close as possible without being seen and try to get a shot from that point. These antelope were so paranoid (rightfully so) that the moment anyone drove by to glass the mountain, they would scatter like a kicked ant mound!
Allow me to preface this with how terrified I am of snakes. I also know that snakes LOVE this terrain. I had to decide between facing a massive fear or failing my chance at a hunt because I couldn’t change my plan when it didn’t go my way. Therefore, I popped it like a squat and started my duck walk. If anything moved near me I would squeeze my eyes shut, hold my breath, and just keep going!
As luck would have it, my hunting party made the distance from 1200 yards away from the herd to manage a 465-yard shot on my buck antelope with my rifle. I knew that my cover in the drainage wash had run out and my only chance was that shot. I stayed low in the scrub and got the tripod prepared for a shot in a seated position, and thankfully my buck gave me a great shot in an instant where he stayed still after herding his 30 doe friends (my guy was a player).
I had to force myself to change my strategy and consider another way.
If you are hunting, and you find yourself not achieving success, then take a step back and assess what might be another option. Could you use a different approach, do you need another setup altogether, or perhaps you need more cover for your entire hunt?
Does this spark any questions about what you might do to give yourself more opportunity? If so, send us your questions and we can run a message thread to share tips and ideas. We all want to see each other succeed!
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