Preparing for your first hunting trip is an exciting process, but before you start dreaming about that glorious trophy that will soon adorn your study, keep a few of these best-practices in mind.
Hunting Trip Preparation
Get in Shape
While you may think hunting is mainly kicking back in a deer blind and waiting for the game to come to you—well, okay, you might be a little bit right. However, while waiting may be a big part of hunting, depending on the type of game, there’s a good deal of hiking and maneuvering difficult terrain as well. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a prize animal because you’re not able to get yourself where you need to be. Aside from hiking and jogging, crouching for long periods of time can also be physically challenging. If you haven’t already, start putting in some training time. Schedule a weekend hike with a pack, walk during your lunch breaks, take up jogging or try lifting weights a few times a week.
Make Sure your Equipment is in Working Order
This is one of the most crucially important things you can do to prepare for an upcoming trip. Before you head out you’ll need to make sure that all your guns, crossbows and other hunting tools are checked, cleaned, recalibrated, restrung and repaired if necessary. Maintaining your tools will not only affect performance, it can affect your safety as well. Neglected guns in particular, especially those containing rust or buildup, could result in a deadly or damaging backfire.
Bring the Right Supplies
If you plan on camping or going on a multi-day trip it’s crucial that you bring enough food, water and other necessary essentials, such as flashlights, maps, GPS, insect repellant, and the like. Pack appropriate clothing, and when in doubt, prepare for the worst. Always remember: safety first—don’t forget to pack your orange hunter safety clothing. If you’re unsure, a good hunting guide will be able to tell you what type of camouflage as well as how many changes of clothes you may need for your trip. For colder seasons especially, you’ll want to pack extra layers and heavy duty jackets in case evening temperatures drop lower than expected. You’ll also need to keep a sustainable menu in mind. If you’re camping make sure to bring foods that are both easily portable but nutrient dense as well.
Practice Makes Perfect
This may seem like a no brainer, but whether you plan to use a bow, rifle or handgun during your hunting trip, you need to practice with the tool you plan on using in the field. Shoot from a variety of positions and create practice situations that require you to perform under pressure. Practice again and again, and when you think you’ve got in all the practicing you can muster, then practice some more. Make sure to also practice sound safety techniques as well as good post-range gun cleaning habits.
Know your State’s Regulations
It’s your responsibility to know the specific rules and regulations as they pertain to hunting in your state. Before you plan a trip, make sure to contact the appropriate local, state and federal agencies for information on general hunting regulations as well as regulations on the particular game type, season and locality you plan to hunt within. These agencies should be able to tell you what types of licenses and fees apply. Additionally, most states require hunters to purchase special stamps. Others require hunters to put their names into a non-resident lottery drawing system in order to acquire a hunting permit. Whatever the particular state regulation is, most states will accept hunting applications until spring.
Make sure to do all the research you can. You not only want to understand the type of game you’re hunting, you also want to understand the region. Consult, maps and other topographic resources, or get in touch with experienced hunting outfitters. Go online and consult sportsman around the world through communities like Guidefitter, which connects hunting enthusiasts, guides and outfitters on a platform that shares tips, insight and other useful information.