Well-prepared hunters must be ready to stay on the field from dawn until dusk, which requires a high degree of physical preparedness and mental readiness. Even if nothing happens for over 95% of the day, you must be ready to take an accurate shot for the potential 5% of opportunity.
Learn how to remain focused whether you’re waiting in your hunting blind or stalking prey, and find out the best habits to adopt if you want to stay sharp.
Prepare Yourself Before the Hunt
While physical fitness and strength can undoubtedly help you during the hunt, mental preparedness is the difference between a long but successful hunt and going home early.
Although hunting is a hobby and a passion for many, it is by no means an easy task. Many factors and situations will test your resolve. From extreme temperatures — especially during the winter — and inclement weather to lack of animals, missing shots and spooking the deer away, the more problems accumulate, the more tempting it may be to call it quits for the day.
You can prevent many of these issues by preparing adequately before going to the field. Make sure your equipment is in order by checking all of the following:
- Ensure your hunting clothes are clean, scent-free and ready to be worn.
- Bring scent-removing spray.
- Check that your bow or gun is properly sighted-in.
- Bring enough ammunition.
- Pack camping supplies for a full day, including food and water.
On the night before you go out, make sure you have had enough sleep. If you want to get the most of your hunt, you should be in your blind at least 30 minutes before sunrise. Deer are the most active at sunrise and sunset; you don’t want to miss any early movement or activity.
Staying Sharp During the Hunt
Preparing may alleviate some of the worries on the field, but you may still have to face many things that can sap your confidence during the day.
Part of planning a hunt, mainly if you hunt from a blind, is to prepare yourself to sit down for over 12 hours. This is why blind hunters have an advantage over tree stand hunters.
With an adequate setup, it’s possible to spend most of those 12 hours in relative comfort. The main element of comfort in a blind is to have a suitable blind chair. Your chair must fulfill two purposes: let you sit down comfortably and not obstruct or inconvenience you when it’s time to take a shot.
The latter element is critical for bow hunters; most people learn to shoot bows in a standing position, but if you bow hunt, you must be confident in your ability to take a shot from a seated position.
During the colder months, purchasing portable heaters for each of your blinds may be one of the best investments you can make. Few things can sap your concentration worse than cold weather.
Hunt Well, Eat Well
For a hunter, eating well is more than just a way to keep the body fueled; it keeps hunger and dehydration at bay, both of which can severely reduce your ability to concentrate. When you’re hungry, your mind wanders and you lose your focus.
Noticing yourself losing focus can hurt morale as well. Don’t give hunger a chance to sap your hunt; pack meals and snacks to eat throughout the day.
Apples, oranges, bananas — either fresh or dried — are all excellent choices and can be eaten in near-complete silence. You can safely toss your apple core, peel or skin into the woods when you’re done eating; the local critters will eat them.
Beef or venison jerky gives you all the nutritional benefits of red meat without the inconveniences of cooking scents. They provide plenty of energy as well.
● Candy or Granola Bars
As long as you’re careful with the wrapper, you can eat them relatively quickly, giving yourself a good boost of calories and energy.
● Nuts and Trail Mix
Although you can buy pre-packaged trail mix, it’s even better to make your own with your favorite ingredients and a resealable poly bag. Your trail mix ingredient options are nearly limitless: almonds, dried cranberries, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pecan, pistachios and cashews.
Don’t forget to bring plenty of water. A helpful trick is to place bottles of water ahead of time in your blind, saving you from having to bring it with you in your pack.
Although it might be tempting to bring coffee, be careful to limit your consumption, as coffee is a mild diuretic and causes an increase in urination. While answering nature’s call at least once may well be inevitable throughout the day, the fewer times you have to leave your blind, the better.
Beating the Boredom
Most of those hours you will spend in the blind will be uneventful. Boredom erodes your ability to concentrate, but you can beat the boredom with a few fun activities.
However, you must be careful not to choose a method that distracts you too much, which would cause additional problems. It’s all about doing just enough to beat the boredom but not so much that you’re pulled away from the hunt and into whatever is distracting you.
Keep this in mind if you’re turning toward your smartphone to distract yourself. Yes, it can provide you with endless entertainment, from games and videos to texting and social media. Still, it’s also deceptively easy to get lost in the distractions your device can provide you.
If you’d rather read something instead of using your phone, nothing beats the good old-fashioned book or a few magazines. Reading is easier on your eyes, and you won’t have a screen lighting up part of your face, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Consider taking short naps from time to time. Close your eyes and let your body rest for no more than 30-45 minutes during uneventful moments. You’ll be able to maintain your concentration longer and feel less tired during the day.
However, it comes with a caveat. Not everyone can take short naps, and knowing yourself is critical. If you’re the sort of person who simply falls asleep for hours instead of napping, you may want to avoid napping entirely.
Stay Focused to Fill Your Tags
As long as you’re prepared and equipped to face the potential hardships of a day-long hunting session, your confidence and your concentration levels will remain up, and you’ll beat the temptation of going home if things don’t go your way.
With preparedness, the right mindset and a little bit of luck, you’ll bring that buck down, fill your tag out and get fresh meat to fill your freezer.
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