Buying the newest product does not guarantee hunting success. It takes action and practice and learning from your mistakes.
Each of us possess the ability to improve, but it seems that so much emphasis is placed on buying new gadgets that will somehow "make us better hunters" that we actually prevent ourselves from improving. Quiet clothing, scent elimination systems, long range rifles and range finders can certainly help us fill tags, but do they actually make us better hunters?
Some gadgets will help improve harvest but the hunter's skills and abilities remain the same no matter how many things are purchased to replace skill.
In his 1949 book titled Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold hit the nail on the head when he wrote:
The gadgeteer...has draped the American Outdoorsman with an infinity of contraptions, all offered as aids to self reliance, hardihood, woodcraft or marksmanship, but too often functioning as substitutes for them.
And that was 1949! Here are 10 things you can actually do to become a better hunter:
1. Study the animals you hunt.
Learn everything you can about the habitats, preferred foods and annual migration patterns of every animal you hunt. No gadget on the planet will help you if you're hunting where the animals aren't!
2. Pay attention to the wind.
There are no replacements for staying downwind of game. Knowing the preferred travel routes of game animals will outperform scent elimination products every time.
3. Scout, scout, scout.
Scouting is a skill-set that is poorly or incompletely embraced by hunters. Walking into an area once or twice before the season and finding tracks and trails is only partial scouting. The best hunters scout year round and look for every clue.
4. Be quiet.
Being quiet means paying attention to the leaves under your feet and the clothes you are wearing. Loud sleeves or pant legs can ruin your chances. If you can hear it, so can they.
5. Be in shape.
Hunting fitness is paramount to your success and requires year round dedication. Being near the best hunting area in the world won't mean anything if you can't physically get there.
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6. Be positive.
Attitude is everything. If you have followed axioms 1-5 then you should believe that today is the day every single time you go out. Hunting is hard, embrace the challenge and enjoy your time afield.
7. Hunt with people who share your values.
Hunters who don't take hunting seriously or are unethical will drag everyone around them down. You may need to make a tough decision here. Your choice for hunting partners can make or break you.
8. Know your gear and practice with it.
The best gear in the world is only as good as the operator.
9. Pay attention to the moon phases.
There are a few basic things that influence animal patterns. The moon is definitely one of them. When the moon is full at night, deer and elk are out feeding, but when the moon is full during the day the same holds true! Pay attention to this and use it to your advantage.
10. Evaluate your failures and successes.
Learning from our mistakes is sometime hard to do. When things go wrong, figure out why and use that information to be a better hunter. The same holds true for successes. When things go right evaluate the scenario and repeat the things that worked.
Paying attention to current market trends is not a bad idea. There are many products on the market that can help us be more comfortable and precise while in the field. But nothing can make you a better hunter like doing the right things at the right times.
Remember that hunting skills are learned not purchased and you'll be well on your way to hunting success.