Max’s 20 Rules of Hunting

Over the years Max has hunted nearly every game species in New Zealand including red deer, chamois and tahr. Today, he focuses primarily on hunting possums with his German Shorthaired Pointers. This post lists 20 of Max’s rules for hunting. They have been divided into four categories: Mindset, Fitness and Nutrition, Dog Work and Gear and Safety. Whether you plan to hunt in New Zealand or never plan to leave Nebraska, these tips will help you to harvest more game.

MINDSET

1. Positive growth mindset. Hunting is a learned skill. When you hear about a legendary hunter or an incredible dog, know what one hunter can do, another can do and what one dog can do, another can do. Let the success of others inspire you to take their work and improve upon it.

2. Know the pulse of the hunt. Our mindset determines our next behavior, and our next behavior will determine our future mindset. Choose behaviors according to what you want from your future mindset. Spiral upwards not downwards.

3. Always remember that you choose to hunt because it is fun. Always expect to shoot something and channel that expectation into excitement. Use the excitement to maintain positivity. Maintain an awareness to separate your expectations from pressure on yourself. Don’t let the pressure to succeed take the fun away from hunting. At the end of the night finish with the same attitude as your dog. If nothing else, you and the dog exercised.

4. Concentrate on the process of putting together a quality hunt and then hunting consistently. Focus on generating the highest number of quality hunts possible.

5. Politics and competition can impact the success of hunters and contractors. Understand coverage and kills in how it pertains to maintaining a professional image, but don’t mistake image for ability. When it comes to knowing how good you are, only one opinion matters: the dog’s. Only the dog knows how good you are. When you believe in the dog and the dog believes in you, hunting becomes fun.

FITNESS AND NUTRITION

6. Hunt today so that you want to hunt tomorrow. Drink before you’re thirsty. Eat before you’re hungry. Rest before you’re tired. Take a layer off before you’re hot. Put a raincoat on before you’re wet.

7. Prepare your circadian rhythm for a night hunt by staying up late the night before and napping during the day prior.

8.  Nap when you feel tired, not when it’s convenient.  If you put a nap off it may make it impossible to sleep.

9.  Don’t hunt hung over.

10. Eat real food, not only bars and candy. 

11. Use caffeine strategically, and don’t expect yourself to hunt through a caffeine crash. Use the least amount of caffeine necessary to keep a clear and positive mindset. 

DOG WORK

12. Trust your dog. If you knew where the possums were and where they were not, the dog would not be needed. Your dog will find animals where you wouldn’t expect them, and will quickly clear habitat that you believe holds game. Trusting the dog means both slowing down at times you wish to go fast and also speeding over “good” areas. Stay focused. Look at your dog, not at the trees.

13. Hunt smart. Successful hunts rely on getting into close proximity of the animal for long enough to shoot it. Consider the probability of encountering a possum alone before hunting without the dog’s direction.

14. Follow the dog. If you are too slow, your dog will come back to you. Be honest with your dog. When your dog wants to go, follow. However, you will need to be the dog’s judgement around bluffs and cliffs. Keep the dog from falling. Anytime you follow the dog you might get a possum.

15. Patience while the dog works scent. We can’t fully understand a scent plume or pool.  Beyond air currents, temperature, humidity and surfaces all affect scent and sometimes the dog needs a few minutes to solve the scent puzzle. Let the dog take you backwards if it needs and stay patient.

16. Your dog determines how good you become, and your training determines how good your dog becomes.

17. Read your dog. Dogs respond differently to different stimulus. Always take a note of what your dog’s behavior and catalogue every detail. Notice a change in speed, direction, head height, tail, chest, ears, intensity, sound of its breathing and sound of its footsteps. Read tiredness, thirst, hunger and temperature. These difference will indicate different scents.

GEAR AND SAFETY

18. Always use quality gear.  

19. Don’t carry unnecessary weight, but do carry all safety gear. 

20. Expect to spend a night in the bush after you set off your emergency beacon.  There are many weather conditions in which helicopters can’t rescue you.

Thank you for reading,

Max

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