I don’t know about you, but I wait all year long in anticipation of that magical time when I can grab my bow or rifle and head out for the start of hunting season. Getting up before the sun, enjoying a hot cup of coffee while embracing the peacefulness of the outdoors, and finally grabbing my pack to start the morning’s journey is something that I truly cherish. That rush of adrenaline that comes over you when the silence of the woods is broken by the sound of something walking towards you or the glint of an antler that jumps out at you through your optics is a foreign feeling to a lot of people. Unless you have experienced these things firsthand, it might be hard for someone to understand why we obsess over this time of year so much.
Due to the obsession of the upcoming seasons, I try to capitalize on this down time and prepare myself for the hunts ahead. Just because it isn’t hunting season, doesn’t mean that we can’t do hunting related things. This is a great time to test out new gear, hone your shooting skills, or scout out new areas. These are all things that you don’t really want to be messing with when the time comes to trek off into the mountains.
For instance, my wife and I have just taken up backpacking. Great way for us to get out and look at new country that I might not have time to check out come fall. This is also a great way for us to test out new gear. Stoves, tents, clothing, and different backpacking foods are just some of the things that we are able to test out on these trips. All of this research is going to come in mighty handy when I am ready to go in search of my quarry. I will know what worked and what didn’t work. On top of all of this, you can’t beat quality time in the mountains with family.
The other thing I find myself doing a whole lot is shooting. If you can’t shoot, be it with your bow or rifle, then there is a chance that when that time comes and a world class buck gives you a shot opportunity, you will be disappointed. Too much work goes into this to skimp on target practice. Missing is one thing. Wounding an animal though and not recovering it? That is something that I think all of us dread. I feel that I owe it to myself and owe it to the animal to make the best shot that I can under the intense circumstances.
Underneath all of this, I have started to realize over these last few years that a lot of the hunting in hunting is done outside of the season itself. Think about it. We are hunting for sharper skills, the best gear, and last but not least, the best areas we can find to actually hunt. In that sense, I see hunting as a much broader term. The hunt doesn’t necessarily have to end when the season ends. Excuse me now. I have to go shoot my bow.