How to Stay Ahead of the Game on a Hunt

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Over the years, I have adapted several rules to help keep myself safe and succesful on my wilderness excursions. I have adapted these rules to hunt by, out of numerous small failures over the years.

The first and most important rule is: "never let anyone or any situation separate you from your equipment." This means your gun, your backpack, your water, your food, your flashlight or whatever. Say you're on a long stalk on an elk and you put your backpack down to close the distance quicker and more quietly... you continue your stalk and it's getting dark. Now you are forced to find your backpack in the dark (which probably contains your GPS unit and cell phone) and not to mention, you're probably in unfamiliar country. And don't let your buddy or your laziness talk you into putting it down. When the moment really counts, the man that's successful is the man that's prepared.

I have repeated this scenario DOZENS of times, I did it even this year while turkey hunting. I Found myself just jogging out to check a field for turkeys, I figured I'd leave my gear because it was probably a lost cause... and sure enough, I popped over the hill to find myself 100 yards from a good tom... If I only would have been prepared!

Rule number 2: "Never give up!"

I've found myself tired and hungry and thirsty, questioning if I should try one more stalk... Perseverence pays off nearly 100% of the time. If you give it your all, and still fail, then you couldn't have helped it. If you didn't try hard and fail... Likely, it was your own fault. I have given up on a hunt halfway through for all kinds of reasons, but victory only can go to the team that showed up for the game. I have been in circumstances where I felt overwhelmed by the situation, and telling myself "remember rule number 2," is what kept me going.

Specifically this rule paid off when I was hunting a winter feeding area for deer in an abnormally cold winter, I believe it was about 20 below zero. A buddy and I decided to try to catch some deer feeding (since they must need more energy to keep going, right?) after a very successful morning of seeing coyotes instead of deer, we took the shortcut across the creek to the truck. I crossed the ice (at 175 pounds) with no difficulty, directly behind me, the 6'3" and 250 pound monster that followed me broke through the ice. The water was only waist deep. The water that filled his knee high rubber boots was frozen shortly after I pulled him out of the water and mud. Joe gave up, once he figured out that he couldn't walk the last 300 yards to the pickup. I drug him most of the way, with him screaming and crying in pain. We cut his frozen boots and socks off with my knife and did our best to wait until the truck warmed up... which seemingly took forever.

My number 3 rule to live by is  more about life, less about hunting... "never sleep with a woman you've known less than 24 hours." I can't even begin to say how many times this rule may have saved my life!

NEVER GIVE UP!

Comments

arrowflipper's picture

At least

All three of those are great rules.  Well, at least two of them are.  I've been guilty of the first two but fortunately, not the third.

How many times have I left my gear for a quick look or a quick something?  I'll never forget an archery elk hunt in Utah one time.  We had driven to the top of a mountain and stopped to take a break.  We still had 45 minutes to where we were going.  We all got out and I decided to wander down a side road a bit to see what I could see.  Did I take my bow??  Why would I take my bow on just a quick walk down the road?  Two hundred yards down the road was a bull elk feeding 20 yards off the road.  He didn't have a clue I was around and I just stood there for several minutes, wishing I had been smart enough to carry my bow.  Of course, by the time I went back to the truck to get it, he had decided to move out.

Another time was in Alaska when I left my entire pack to go look for a wounded moose.  Didn't find the moose and almost didn't find my way back out.  I spent several anxious hours out there wandering around before getting lucky and hearing my friends fire off a couple of rounds.  My compass, GPS and flashlight were in my pack on the four wheeler.  I never leave important equipment behind any more.

Sticking with it is good advice for all of life.  Success comes to those who wait.  I don't mean waiting just for the sake of waiting; but sticking it out when it would be easier to quit.  It's kind of like fishing..... you can't leave because you haven't caught anything yet, or you can't leave because they're biting and you don't want to miss one. 

I've never been guilty of tip number 3.  Tell me why you shouldn't do that one.....

 

groovy mike's picture

Ndemiter: You are a wise man with three good rules!

Ndemiter:  You are a wise man. 

 I know this because you have come to realize that our numerous small failures over the years, are opportunities to learn better behavior in the future. 

‘The man that's successful is the man that's prepared’ is worth remembering!  I too have learned that you want your daypack most when it isn’t around!  I once set my daypack and turkey decoys down in an open field and walked to the next ridge to peak over.  When I went back to pick up my pack, I couldn’t find the darned thing!  It was an open field for crying out loud!  But it took me twenty minutes to locate which tiny fold of ground had hidden it from my view.  Now I NEVER move away from my daypack!

I agree completely that even more important than not getting separated from your gear is your rule number two to ‘Never give up!’

Specifically this rule paid off when I was hunting a winter feeding area for deer in an abnormally cold winter, I believe it was about 20 below zero. A buddy and I decided to try to catch some deer feeding (since they must need more energy to keep going, right?) after a very successful morning of seeing coyotes instead of deer, we took the shortcut across the creek to the truck. I crossed the ice (at 175 pounds) with no difficulty, directly behind me, the 6'3" and 250 pound monster that followed me broke through the ice. The water was only waist deep. The water that filled his knee high rubber boots was frozen shortly after I pulled him out of the water and mud. Joe gave up, once he figured out that he couldn't walk the last 300 yards to the pickup. I drug him most of the way, with him screaming and crying in pain. We cut his frozen boots and socks off with my knife and did our best to wait until the truck warmed up... which seemingly took forever.

My number 3 rule to live by is  more about life, less about hunting... "never sleep with a woman you've known less than 24 hours." I can't even begin to say how many times this rule may have saved my life!

NEVER GIVE UP!  God has blessed me with numerous successful hunts after either my hunting partners had given up, or I had seriously considered giving up but stuck it out ‘just a little longer’, etcetera.  You just never know when game will show up, but you can be sure that if you have given up and are no longer near your equipment – you will not shoot them.  This goes along with my father in law’s sage hunting advice that you will never shoot a deer inside your living room. You have to go hunting if you want a successful hunt.  Now how can anyone argue with that? 

As for that third point.  Well I gotta agree that is good advice.  But as someone else posted – I think that 24 hour rule probably out to stretch out quite a bit longer – like beyond the duration of probably about twenty four months plus the length of a marriage ceremony or so!

Mike

ManOfTheFall's picture

Those are all great rules.

Those are all great rules. That's too bad about your friend falling into that icy water. I hope everything turned out ok for him. Thanks for the tips and keep them coming.

hunter25's picture

All good tips here. I have

All good tips here. I have never gotten in a bad or life threatening situation because of leaving stuff behind but I have been left at a disadvantage. stupid things like not taking extra bullets or leaving radios in the truck when planning to just go over the first hill for a look see. Or forgetting a knife behind or all the little junk that goes with a well prepared pack.

On the second point of never giving up, that one speaks for itself as you will find that with rare exception it is the guys that push hard no matter the weather or adverse conditions are the ones that come home with the game or the biggest bucks. Never giving up applies to any situation in life whether it be hunting or any thing else that comes at us.

The last point also is a good one but I would say that in my experience needs to be extended well past the 24 hour mark. lol

ndemiter's picture

well, let's just say that by

well, let's just say that by employing rule number 3, i've stayed out of lots of trouble.