Bowhunters enjoy tremendous flexibility in animal variety and exciting venues to hunt. No wonder so many archers head west for elk and mule deer, to Texas for big whitetails and exotics, or to Africa and South America for fall hunting seasons in our summer months. Whether you’re heading across the state line or around the world, keep these five tips in mind as the hunt draws near.
1. Stop practicing. I began hunting in Africa 20 years ago and often tried to practice up to the last minute before leaving. From experience, I learned that allowing my muscles to rest and strengthen for a week actually increased my shooting skills. Whether you’re driving across state lines or flying to another continent, it is possible to over-practice. As the hunt gets down to the wire, shoot a couple of shots each day and work your mental game just before the hunt.
2. Change the oil. Not literally of course, but give your bow a thorough string check with bee’s wax and tighten every bolt you can see. You may want to remove your sight and pack it separately to eliminate damage and take a picture with your cell phone to make sure it’s replaced exactly as before. Attach your broadheads where you have the necessary tools and be sure you have plenty of light to do the job safely.
3. Take extras. Think of the little things that you’ll need every day and make a back-up plan. If the battery in your rangefinder fades, will you have another? Should you forget or lose your release, do you have a spare? Crossbow hunters need an extra cocking rope for sure. Reverse the batteries in your flashlight so that it won’t accidentally light in your pack. Pack little bags with specific gear or clothing and put them in the larger bag to help keep organized.
4. Check the weather. Go to an online weather site and check out the forecast at your hunting location. There is no guarantee of the forecast, yet it should give you a heads-up about rain, storms, and snow. When traveling, your gear selection must be limited, yet you want to be warm and dry. Don’t pack several hunting outfits on rugged hunts, as you’ll probably only wear one. Use scent wipes and sprays to control human odor.
5. Be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Pack a daypack with everything you need in order to hunt, so that you can hit the ground running. Pack your binoculars, rangefinder, release, and emergency gear in a pack. That way, if you arrive two hours before dark, you can be on your way. One caution: If you’re flying, don’t pack a knife in your carry-on luggage. Along this line, I also pack my bow and surround it with hunting clothes in a roller bag, which eliminates the perception of carrying a firearm in a hard case. Good hunting!