Through all the excitement, you’re bound to overthink your first hunting trip.
Think back; can you remember your first-ever hunting trip? If it happened when you were young, odds are the memories are there, but maybe not crystal clear. If you got into hunting later in life, you may recall things a little better.
In either case, you were a newbie in the truest sense, and there was a huge amount of experience lacking in your repertoire. For those just beginning their adventure in the outdoor pursuits, here are several signals, thoughts and even beginner mistakes that can be expected.
1. Hunting is mostly about sitting and waiting
When you’re first getting started in hunting, you can feel so pumped that you forget the majority of your time will consist of sitting and waiting. You might forget to bring water, snacks or other necessary items. You need to make sure that you’re going to be comfortable, warm and hydrated so that you don’t get anxious or bored, either of which can ruin a hunt.
2. If you don’t see anything at the crack of dawn, you leave
When we were on our first hunting trip, we had read somewhere that deer only made an appearance at the crack of dawn. By the time 9:00 a.m. rolled around, we still hadn’t seen anything, so we left. When we returned about an hour later to lay more corn, we not only saw a deer, but we were able to take her down. Deer are out and about at all times of the day. They can be more active at certain times, but there isn’t one uniform period that’s better than others.
3. You rely too heavily on technology
Game cameras, GPS and certain smart phone apps, can give you great insight into hunting spots and which animals are at those spots. But technology can’t tell you everything there is to know about a certain location. The best information comes from getting your boots on the ground. If you can scope out the area a couple days before, you’ll have a better understanding of the terrain and you may even stumble upon prime spots.
4. Only the most expensive equipment will do
Whether it’s the most expensive binoculars, big brand camo or your firearm or bow, the cost of the item doesn’t make you a better or worse hunter. If you get your camo from Walmart, it’ll be sure to provide adequate camouflage. If you get binoculars for $40, you’ll certainly be able to see further than you could without them. If you can only afford a $200-300 rifle, as long as it’s sighted in, you’ll do just fine. Don’t let other hunters, especially professional hunters, make you feel like any less of a sportsman just because you can’t afford all the expensive hunting clothing and gear. The most important thing is to get out there and hunt.
5. If you don’t bring something home, you’re a failure
It can be extremely disappointing if you go home with nothing, especially from your first hunt. But it does by no means make you a failure. Even the greatest hunters will have days in which they bring home absolutely nothing. It’s okay! Get out there again and again and again. Don’t give up!
6. You set your rifle or bow down and relax
When you first get out there, you’ll most likely expect something to come running out right away. However, that’s usually not how it works, and when you feel the woods are quiet, you set your weapon down and relax.
Don’t let your guard down! You don’t have to clutch onto your firearm or bow for dear life, but be on the ready. Remember that any loud noises will spook the animals, so make sure that your bow or firearm will be easy to get setup and ready to fire without much noise.
7. You decide not to wear camo at all
The fact is, camo was made so you blend in with the natural surroundings. Regardless if you’re in a blind or not, at least wear some type of camo so that you blend in the best that you can. Try to get camo that is quiet, anything that says water or wind resistant will most likely be loud.
8. You take too long to take the shot
When you’re on your first hunting trip and you see that animal come into your sights, your adrenaline starts pumping and of course, the nerves start shaking. You really want to get this deer, so you sight in and wait for that perfect shot.
News flash: there may never be a perfect shot. The deer could be there and gone in the blink of an eye and you’ll have missed your chance because you were wanting a “better” shot. When you see an available shot in your sights, that you’re confident in taking, take it.
9. You’ve never worn your hunting gear until the day of the hunt
Your hunting gear is most likely a lot more bulky than your everyday clothes. You need to get geared up completely and practice with your rifle or bow. This is especially important if you’re bowhunting because pulling your bow back with all your gear on will be a completely different experience than with everyday clothes.
10. You don’t tell someone where you’re going
It doesn’t matter if you’re going alone or if you’re going with a buddy, tell a third party exactly where you’re going to be and the times that you’re going to be there. Anything can happen out there and it’s better that someone back home knows where you are than to be lying in the bushes with a broken ankle until someone happens to stumble upon you.
These signs can essentially double as tips, and ideally your first (several) hunting trips will be a little smoother and a little more enjoyable after knowing what to expect.