Christmas Eve is one of the most exciting nights of a child’s life. It’s filled with anticipation, excitement, sugar and wonder… Archery Opener Eve is just about the same thing! And just like the visions of sugar plums dancing in kids heads, I dream of velvety bucks while I’m all nestled in bed! Seriously though, I look forward to this day, all year long!
But looking forward to this day, and being prepared for this day are two very different beasts! Preparing for a hunt means much more to me than worrying about what I am going to pack to wear the night before I leave. It encompasses months of work and dedication and time! Being that our archery opener is only two short days away, Eeeeeekkkkkkk!, I thought I would sum up what exactly I have been doing the last few weeks to prepare for the big day!
1. Gear Check! – This is an obvious one, but something worth covering. Pull that bow out of it’s case and give it a good once over. Make sure you have everything you need to start shooting. Now’s the time to make those changes you wanted to make mid hunting season last year. Did you want to try out a new release? Are you considering a string replacement?How about upgrading your site? Or maybe your wanting to buy a half dozen of those ultra-micro diameter arrows to try out! Months before the opener is the time to do this! Not the week before. A good paper tune is probably a good idea as well. Note to self: that may be a good future blog post. You could be shooting the most expensive set up on the market, but if it isn’t tuned properly, it isn’t worth a dime in my opinion.
2. Set a Shooting Schedule! – And get married to it;) Two days each week to start and eventually work your way up to every night as the season approaches. Meet up with friends or shoot alone. Hit the indoor range, shoot at league nights, or set up a bag in your backyard. It really doesn’t matter in the beginning. Start working to build the muscles in your back and shoulders and consistently working through the kinks of the proper anchor point and smooth trigger pull, etc. etc. Once you master that 20 yard range, start to move back and mix in different directions, angles, and odd yardages too. If you can, try to practice shooting at 3D style targets of game animals, preferably a buck, it really does help you prepare for proper shot placement. Remember to shoot your arrows with the broadheads you chose to hunt with as you get closer to opening day. Sometimes, there is a variation from field points to broad heads and you don’t want to be surprised with that after you let one fly at that monster buck on opening morning.
3. Scout! – Head out a couple different times and cruise around the area you plan to hunt. Take the kiddos for a quick over night camping trip if you can.
It pays off big time to check out the area you plan to hunt. It helps in learning what the animals are doing. Are you seeing tracks and droppings up in the high elevation or are they hanging out in the lower levels. Trail camera set ups can be beneficial as well, but aren’t always necessary (I doubt Fred Bear relied on cameras). Scouting is just a big part of being prepared, even if its an area you have hunted for years.
4. Exercise! – This is my least favorite thing, but its probably the most important thing I’ll list in this post. It speaks for itself. The first step in hunting preparedness is making sure that your strength and stamina is up to speed. Running, walking, pushups, planks, whatever it is. Do something daily to get your heart rate up and your muscles working. It will pay off big time when you need it the most. And it’s good for you in all other aspects of life too.
5. Rules, Safety and Ethics! – Yep, the Mom in me always comes out…Take the time to brush up on the game laws. Period. Know the laws and regulations and follow them. If your hunting public land, make sure you know the area and that you are not trespassing onto private land
s. And be safe! Make sure you let someone know where you are planning to hunt. Cell service can be limited in certain areas and I would recommend a back up plan be in place. Call your mom and tell her your headed out and when you plan to be back. That way someone knows!
Taking an animal’s life is no small thing to me and I know many other hunters feel the exact same way. I want to be as confident and steadfast as I can be when the moment comes that I decide to take a life. Being prepared is the backbone of a successful hunt and really does help project hunters as skilled sportsmen. Wish me luck, I know that I have put in the work and I can only hope that its in God’s plan that it all pays off this season!