Before I set out on a hunt I sit down and make a list first every year.
Well, that’s not quite true. I use the same list every year that’s saved on my computer, but I’m constantly making changes to it.
This is often because I realized I’d forgot something useful the year before ore because I felt I was packing to heavily for my needs, I’m a bit obsessive over this practise, but I make no apologies for it.
I’d much rather spend a few extra minutes to make sure I have everything I need before heading out on a weeklong hunt, rather than realizing after the fact that something’s missing.
Unless you have a photographic memory you’ll likely find a list like this extremely useful. Here are our top ten tips for what you should do to prepare before heading out on the hunt.
- 1 #1 Prepare Your Bow or Rifle
- 2 #2 Understanding Regulations
- 3 #3 Don’t Forget Your License and Tags
- 4 #4 Make Sure You Have Enough Ammunition
- 5 #5 Pack for Warmth
- 6 #6 Don’t Forget Your Rain Gear
- 7 #7 Avoiding Hunger and Staying Hydrated
- 8 #8 Finding the Right Ration Balance
- 9 #9 Other Accessories
- 10 #10 Find Your Spot – Planning and Scouting
#1 Prepare Your Bow or Rifle
The first thing you need to do is prepare your weapon. It should be cleaned and in tip top shape before you head out. It’s also a good idea to make sure your sight is aligned properly before every hunt.
Some target practise at a local range will allow you to make any necessary adjustments so that your rifle or bow is ready to go when you get to your hunting base.
A sight that’s out of alignment may cost you dearly on the hunt. Nobody wants to tell the story of the one that got away.
#2 Understanding Regulations
Before you head out on a hunting trip make sure you understand the regulations for the jurisdiction you’re hunting in. This is even more important if you’re hunting in an area you’re not familiar with.
Don’t assume that the regulations are the same as they are in your neck of the woods as you may be way off base in this assumption.
Instead of landing yourself in hot water take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with local laws. A quick internet search should help you find this information quickly and then you can head out on the hunt with peace of mind knowing that you know exactly what’s permitted and what’s not.
#3 Don’t Forget Your License and Tags
Even once you understand the regulations you still have to make sure you have a valid hunting license and tags for the deer you’re legally allowed to hunt.
This isn’t something you’d ever want to risk going without even if you’re a first time hunter and you’re simply tagging along with more experienced hunters that have all of the requisite paperwork in order.
If there’s any chance you’re going to be taking a shot yourself make sure that you’re doing it legally. There are some potentially serious legal consequences if you don’t ensure your paperwork’s in order.
#4 Make Sure You Have Enough Ammunition
A rifle or bow isn’t of much use to you on a hunting expedition if you happen to forget your ammunition at home in the garage!
Make sure you have enough ammunition for the length of time you’re going for. This is a bit of a judgement call and if you’re not sure take ammunition with you just in case.
If this is your first hunting trip you may find this hard to judge and it’s probably best to lean on a more experienced member of your group for advice.
#5 Pack for Warmth
Hunting season can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to bond with friends and family in a rustic setting, but if you don’t pack the right clothes to keep you warm it probably won’t be as much fun as you would hope.
Make sure you have a warm sweater, coat, hat, and a nice pair of gloves with you.
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy unseasonably warm weather on your trip and you don’t end up needing this gear you can simply leave it sitting at the hunting base. It’s better to have it available and not have to use it than sitting for ours in a tree freezing.
#6 Don’t Forget Your Rain Gear
When you’re hunting there’s also a good chance you’ll run into a bit of rain from time to time. This won’t be the end of the world if you have a nice waterproof rain coat with you for just such occasions.
Some hunters prefer to stay at camp when the rain rolls in, but you can have a great deal of success hunting in the rain. The deer are typically more docile in these conditions and their senses are not as acute.
If you have the rain gear to go hunting in this type of weather you can take advantage of a great opportunity to catch a deer off guard.
#7 Avoiding Hunger and Staying Hydrated
Waiting in a small box for a prize deer to cross your path can be a long and tedious process. It’s best to plan to be there for hours and that means you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible.
We’ve already talked about the need to have the right clothing to keep you warm, but it’s also important to make sure you have the sustenance you need while you wait. Make sure you take enough water with you and that you have some snacks on hand while you wait for that deer to make an appearance.
#8 Finding the Right Ration Balance
One of my biggest problems when I first started hunting and backpacking was making sure I had enough rations to get me through the week.
On that first trip my wife made sure I didn’t go without food and neither did my hunting mates for that matter. It turned out I had packed enough food for an army.
That extra burden was difficult to carry in my backpack and I quickly learned not to overdo it in subsequent trips. If you’re not sure how much is enough, this is another opportunity to consult with the more experienced hunters you’re tagging along with.
#9 Other Accessories
There are all kinds of tools and accessories you can take along with you on a hunting trip, but some are more important than others.
It’s a good idea to have a good flashlight with you, a good all-purpose knife, a small hand axe if your cabin isn’t equipped with one for chopping wood, and a field dressing knife for prepping the dear.
There are plenty of other accessories you can pack in your bag as well, but these are some of the more important items.
#10 Find Your Spot – Planning and Scouting
One final thing you should keep in mind when preparing for a hunting trip is making sure you scout out your hunting spot ahead of time.
If you’re going along with a more experienced party they may have a blind already set up, but if not you should think carefully about your options.
A watering hole may be a good spot or a field where the deer like to graze. If you’re not from the area try tapping the locals for tips if you can.
You’ll want to find the best spots you can if your hunting trips going to be a success.