The 2020 season lies in the rear view mirror, and we have begun planning for 2021. Hunters around the country are researching draw odds and taping crayon drawings of elk to the refrigerator. Though online research plays a role in filling tags, other often overlooked choices may have a bigger effect. You’ll make 80 percent of the decisions that determine success before the season starts. The two biggest factors: planning for the worst and finding time.
Your honey hole has every parking spot filled. Now what? Your bow derails or the drop-away cable slips. Will you find yourself stuck in the line of broken dreams at Sportsman’s Warehouse opening weekend? How many things can go wrong before you cancel your trip? By anticipating possible mishaps and planning accordingly, you can avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket. Whether that means having a back-up bow tuned or a secondary location scouted, plan ahead for worst case scenarios. I hear stories of close calls every year. In truth, every hunter faces adversity at some point. The successful ones had planned for it.
A friend’s release malfunctioned while at full draw on a bull a few years back. He’s a bit of a gear junkie and tries new products regularly. That’s fine to do, but put the time in to test the durability of your setup. When you put a thousand arrows through a bow during the summer, it’s easy to feel confident. If you only took a few hundred shots, you may have more doubts.
Spring is the time of year to take one step back in order to take two steps forward. Your bow might need new strings, or maybe a different release would allow you to overcome target panic. Replace anything that shows signs of wear and may not hold up through a summer of shooting. It’s better to sit at square one now than in August.
Plan to have everything dialed far in advance. Personally, I try not to change any component of my setup after August 1st. Whenever your season begins, build in extra time for unexpected setbacks.
Success often comes down to spending enough time in the woods. Many hunters dream of opening day only to have their boss change vacation policies in the fall. Clarify in the interview or yearly review what dates you’ll hunt. Establish those weeks as a priority and build around them.
Also, make sure to clear a couple weekends during the summer for scouting. July weekends can quickly become consumed with camping trips and barbecues and leave little time to prep for the fall. Lastly, set aside time each week for working out and shooting.
Decisions we make in the next few months will determine which tags get filled. Hunters fail to harvest bulls for a variety of reasons: car trouble, unexpected expenses, weddings and home remodels. Many of them have nothing to do with hunting. Too many trips fall apart before a tent ever gets pitched.
Bows trusted all summer probably won’t break down in September. The same goes for trucks (though I’ve proven that wrong). Smart choices this spring will put you in a better position come fall. Good luck and remember that in order for things to fall into place, it’s best to plan for them to fall apart.