I have been hunting while in college for the past two years. At times my hunting has suffered because of assignments I needed to do and at times my grades have suffered because I hunted too much. Finding a balance is not easy, but it can be done. Here are a few things to consider.
- Set up your schedule with hunting in mind.
Never take a class on Friday afternoon. Try not to have class before twelve one day, and not after twelve another day. Then depending on what time of the season it is, you can hunt in the morning or evening. Next semester I plan to have few classes on Wednesday so I can skip them on November 22nd in order to get to Nebraska sooner for a thanksgiving mule deer hunt.
- Contact biology professors about deer hunting.
Hopefully you have at least one professor who has done some hunting and you can email him for possible leads. If not, biology professors are a good place to start. Also coaches tend to be part of the hunting culture as well. I have been surprised by how friendly and helpful other hunters are towards college kids looking to hunt. I have heard of students meeting people at local churches as well.
- Former students.
Many students have come through your university looking to hunt. These students move away every four years leaving heaps of hunting possibilities behind. Befriend upperclassmen who hunt in your first year in college, and you might be able to inherit their hunting locations when they graduate.
- Be realistic
When I plan to hunt every weekend I set myself up to be disappointed. Be ready for your schedule to change and suddenly a Friday afternoon hunt is cancelled. Or you have an assignment on Monday morning that pops up so you can’t go hunting at all. I felt pretty sick this past season when I had to stay at Grinnell for a group project near the peak of the rut. But that is part of hunting in college and you can still have success.
- Be flexible
Though college can be a seven day a week job, it also has a lot of vacation days. Semester schedules offer long winter, fall, and thanksgiving breaks. These four years might be the time to hone in on early or late season skills you haven’t had to use before. My sophomore year I shot a buck over fall break in October, and Stuart shot his buck this season over Christmas break. Just keep hunting, you never know, and it is better to be in a treestand than a library. Also, take your readings into the treestand with you. I don’t recommend reading in a treestand if you can help it, but if it comes down to reading while hunting or not hunting at all, take your assignment with you. Getting out a few weekends and over your breaks is enough to continue to improve as a hunter. If you are proactive in finding locations near your school and setting up your schedule you can hunt more than you expect while in college. Good luck.