Making (and keeping) these New Years resolutions will make you a better hunter, help the sport as a whole, and increase your enjoyment of time spent outdoors.
If you’re tired of making the same old New Years resolutions year after year, try one of these on for size this year. Studies do show that if it’s an activity you already love, then completing it won’t be too much trouble at all.
1. Take a Kid Hunting
The vast majority of hunting adults first hit the field before their eighteenth birthday. If you have kids, take them hunting with you. If you don’t, do your best to find a niece, nephew, or young friend who has an interest in the sport, but lacks the opportunity.
While hitting the field with youngsters, keep it fun by bringing snacks, hunting in favorable weather conditions, and doing your best to hunt areas where your young hunter will see game.
2. Become a Better Shot
Whether you hunt with a rifle, bow, shotgun, or slingshot, becoming a better marksman will put more game on the table and trophies on the wall. Establish a year-round practice regimen and stick to it. You’ll be glad you did when that trophy buck or bull steps from the timber at 320 yards.
3. Get in Shape
The amount of physical fitness required for a successful hunt varies by species and hunting style, but being in shape will make you a better hunter no matter what you are chasing. Hunting bugling bulls in September? A high level of fitness will get you to the ridge top to pinpoint their location. Targeting late season whitetails in Illinois? Flexibility gained from consistent exercise will help you climb into stand safely, even in heavy winter clothing.
You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to be a good hunter, but make it a goal to be in better shape next year than you are right now.
4. Find New Hunting Ground
Continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results is insanity. If the area you’ve been hunting doesn’t hold the quality or quantity of game you’d like, quit your complaining and do something about it.
This could mean finding new public ground in your area, knocking on doors to seek access to private land, or purchasing or leasing a new hunting property. Start looking for new hunting areas now and you’ll be ready when next year’s fall seasons kick off.
5. Scout More
The animals you are chasing know their home ranges inside and out. You should too. Get out and do some late season scouting to pinpoint this fall’s rut sign. By spending as much time as possible in your hunting area you’ll gain new insights into how game animals use the area and why.
6. Try Something New
This new year’s resolution could take many shapes, from going on a western elk or mule deer hunt to changing tactics on backyard whitetails (i.e. still hunting instead of stand hunting.)
As hunters, we tend to find something that works for us and stick with it and for good reason. Tactics that have proven successful in the past are always worth trying again. However, too much of the same old, same old can cause your outings to become stale and boring. Try something new this year. You might find that you are more successful.
7. Make or Modify Gear
When it comes to hunting, gear manufacturers have pretty much flooded the market with gadgets, gizmos, calls, and clothing for any situation possible, but most hunters’ budgets or storage capabilities don’t allow us to have one of everything.
Before buying a new piece of gear, ask yourself if you could make it yourself or modify something you already own to fit the need. It’ll be easier on your wallet and you’ll have things just the way you want them.
8. Get Involved
Most hunters know how much wildlife organizations do for the game animals we love to pursue, but many are not members. This year, resolve to become a part of an organization that shares your goals and values.
Some of the most popular hunters’ organizations are the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
Joining one of these organizations will help ensure that the hunting opportunities you cherish are available to your children and grandchildren.
9. Share Game Meat
Your hunt doesn’t end with the kill shot and neither should your efforts to share the sport you love. Sharing a meal of wild game with non-hunting friends or co-workers will show them another side of hunting far different than the grip and grin photos that are typically associated with hunters.
10. Have Fun
While thinking about antler scores,strategies and tactics, scent control, stand placement, entry and exit routes, what call to make and when, reviewing trail camera photos, planting food plots and waiting for the perfect weather pattern for harvesting the buck of a lifetime, our leisure activity can start to feel like work.
The most important new year’s resolution that any hunter can make is to enjoy their time afield. Otherwise, what are we doing out there?
Make and keep these resolutions and have a happy new year in the woods.