Maybe you put down that trophy you had been stalking for days. Maybe you winged a hail mary on the last day and hit nothing but dirt. Regardless of how last fall’s hunt was, the post season is no time for slacking. Here are some tips for next season.
1. Range Time
Did you really miss or had you knocked your scope out of alignment while running around in the woods? Yes the shot placement you got on the broadside 200 yard shot was good, but could you replicate that shot with another 50 yards? Maybe your animal has quartered and there’s a little breeze. Ultimately all hunting boils down to marksmanship. We spend so much time learning how animals behave and how to hide from them. Because there is so much to learn about ecology and biology, we forget that at the moment of truth, information is meaningless if you can’t shoot straight. You can be an absolute nature noob and still randomly come across game. Unless it falls on your gun you still need to know how to shoot.
2. Care and Feeding
Without good equipment you are a naked monkey waiting to be mercilessly slaughtered by mother nature. Your equipment keeps you together, you need to return the favor. In the post season, you don’t clean your guns after the range. You get out the manual and disassemble and reassemble it. Give it a deep clean and inspect all the parts for wear or fatigue. The same goes for all the rest of your equipment. Replace the batteries in electronic devices like headlamps and GPS. Look through clothing for stains and holes. Take apart and inventory your survival kit. Replace all the used and worn stuff. Nothing like finding out your waterproof match case had a little crack in it when you’re freezing to death in the woods.
The amount of finely detailed topographic and visual mapping that can be accessed in a instant is staggering. Bring up google earth and look at where you hunted. Where did you see game and how did it relate to the topography? Use this information to plan your next hunt. Go back and see what the moon, the temperature, and the precipitation were doing. See if there is any correlation between those markers and animal behavior in the area you hunted. Are you hunting the same area next year or moving to a new spot? Bust out the maps and start planning!
The only reason I don’t hunt my Elk this way is because I respect local game laws (which disallow spears). If you had a hard time keeping up with the animals there’s probably a reason. Deer are not known to sit around smoking cigarettes and watching TV. Elk do not get staggering drunk and eat fast food at 2am. Take a look at your lifestyle and see if it’s slowing you down. Hitting the gym has so many advantages it’s not even funny. Focus on your legs and cardiovascular system to make those mountains into hills and miles into meters.
5. The Invaders
Invasive species are everywhere. If you don’t know about these critters start looking at your local wildlife management office or website. In my wonderful state of Colorado we have an endless supply of invasive species and native populations that need extra control. Find out about year round seasons for animals where you live. Like most of North America, Colorado is infested with European Starlings. It’s not exactly stalking trophy Elk in the wilderness but it gets you outside and keeps your skills sharp. It’s an excellent pursuit that can aid in scouting for other, bigger game. You’ll also get the double benefit of helping native species and local ecosystems.
The season never ends. It only takes pauses. Get your body, mind, and gear in shape for next year and you won’t be disappointed.