Hunting season is right around the corner, and everyone is (or should be) gearing up. This goes beyond getting some new ammo and that scope you’ve had your eye set on. It’s about prepping the location you plan to hunt, setting a game plan, and getting the right hunting gear for this year’s hunting trips.
Every hunt is a little different and every year is different, too. So, before you head out into the woods and fields pursuing deer, squirrels, rabbit, upland game birds, or migratory birds, give the following points a thought. If you’re looking for new challenges or are ready to up your game in some way, the following topics might help you along the way.
Bowhunting Is a Challenge Worth Trying
If you’re proficient with a shotgun or a rifle and you’re looking for a new challenge try bow hunting. Bowhunting can be a transformative experience. One that can prove to be humbling, exciting, and downright frustrating at times, but it’s also extremely rewarding when you get it right.
If you’re hoping to bow hunt this season and haven’t ever really shot a bow, I’d say to take a year to practice. You need to be accurate and comfortable shooting your bow, and that takes time and practice.
If you’re a former bowhunter but out of practice, again, I’d say to give it a little time. However, if you were once a proficient bowhunter, you should be able to get back into the swing of things pretty quickly.
In order to get up to speed no matter your experience level, you’ll need some archery gear. Compound bows are best for hunting deer, and the various archery accessories you’ll find for sale shorten the learning curve. A proper arrow rest, bow sight, string silencers, release, can go a long way.
I’d also suggest going to a local archery range. If you have room in your own yard, you can get a target, and shoot to your heart’s content. However, I would still say going to an archery shop or range to get some proper instruction is important.
A Crossbow Is a Good Alternative
Not interested in becoming proficient with a bow? Are you a firearms hunter looking to extend your hunting season but not interested in a traditional recurve or compound bow? Consider a crossbow.
Crossbows are not legal in every state and were often reserved for disabled hunters. However, recently that has changed. More states allow hunting with crossbows at various times of the year (check out local laws to be sure).
This type of weapon has been around for centuries and they offer distinct advantages over a traditional bow setup. The learning curve is generally a little quicker for crossbows than it is for traditional bowhunting, but it’s not like shooting a rifle.
Still, like with compound bows, there’s plenty of crossbow accessories you’ll need to get and numerous skills you’ll need to learn. The crossbow is still a short-range, primitive weapon, and while it offers a unique experience, you’ll need to spend plenty of time preparing before you head out on a hunt.
Modern Electronics Enhance Your Experience
When people think of hunting, they often think it’s a primitive activity, but in reality, modern hunters use modern tools. While you can certainly go out there with primitive equipment and get the job done if you have the right skills, modern electronics will actually enhance your experience.
There are various smartphone apps that can help you find the best hunting ground, GPS locators that can provide safety and peace of mind, and game cameras can be an invaluable tool at showcasing the animals within a certain area. Utilize the tools that are available to you.
Of the three electronics I just mentioned, game cameras are probably the first thing I’d turn to. What used to be an expensive piece of equipment has increasingly become more affordable. Also, the number of features you’ll find on today’s game cameras has expanded substantially. You can get cameras with a cellular signal so that you can check them from your smartphone and monitor them remotely. Solar panels are also available so your camera doesn’t have to rely on battery power alone.
A Sturdy Treestand Is a Must for Deer Hunting
The most common way of hunting a dear, at least in my home state of Indiana is from a treestand. Walk around any land that can be deer hunted during the season and you’re bound to spot a treestand or two.
However, while treestands are common and useful, I caution you about using an old stand or one that hasn’t been inspected recently. According to Glen Mayhew, president of the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation, in 2018 roughly 3,000 accidents resulted from hunters using treestands. That might seem high, but according to the Deer Association, it’s actually down 50 percent from 2010.
If you’re unsure about how safe your treestand is, it might be time to get a new one, and that means finding the right treestand for your particular hunting location.
The Right Decoy Can Make All the Difference for Hunting Waterfowl
Last, but certainly not least, I want to chat about waterfowl hunting. Hunting ducks and geese is a unique experience and something that every hunter should experience at least once in their life.
That said, it’s an equipment investment. You’ll need the hunting clothing and shotgun like you would for hunting other types of game, but you’ll also need some calls and a set of decoys to deploy in various spreads. Decoys come with some additional gear needed, too, like a decoy bag, lines and drops, anchors and weights, and more.
Without the proper decoys, you’ll have a hard time hunting geese and ducks, and you want to make sure that you get the right species and the right decoys for the particular area you’re hunting in.
If you’re new to hunting waterfowl, then I suggest going once or twice with a friend or joining a group like Ducks Unlimited. That way you can get involved without having such a large investment up front. Once you know it’s for you, then you can begin to build out your perfect set of equipment and gear for each season.
Whether you’re new to hunting or a seasoned hunter looking for some new challenges, there’s something out there for everyone. Don’t spend this fall and winter in front of the TV watching Netflix shows. Get out there and have some real experiences this year. Make this hunting season unforgettable.