6 Things to Know Before Your Hunt
Open season on whitetails is knocking at the door and hunters are scouting and getting pumped about picking their fall prospects. It’s fun and exciting, challenging and invigorating—and can sometimes override the seemingly ho-hum… less exciting things you should do and know before your hunt.
It’s easy to focus on the thrill of the chase and forget these basic best practices. They are, however, important and shouldn’t be overlooked. So, let’s review some and get you ready to go! This is a good refresher for experienced hunters and will help beginners start right.
Here are six things to do now to hunt smart, stay safe, and have success before hitting the woods.
1. Know Hunting Laws
The laws on the hunt go round and round, and every year regulations change. So, first things first: check local laws where you plan to hunt, know the area’s baiting and feeding restrictions, and don’t assume one area’s rules are the same as the next. Also—and this is hunting 101—make sure you have a proper license and tags.
Click here for a link to your hunting state’s wildlife management website to check regs and purchase licenses and permits.
2. Know Your Equipment
The next basics begin with knowing your hunting gear. That could include a lot of things depending on personal preference and how and where you hunt. Here are two biggies for folks in the eastern half of the country.
Has your weapon of choice been sitting in storage for a few months? Before you grab it and head out, a few steps need to happen for your safety and success:
Get to know your weapon again, how it operates, its mechanisms and safety features.
- Whether it’s a bow or rifle, your weapon needs a good tune-up before you take it out. Click here for basic firearm cleaning or tips on tuning your bow.
- This one shouldn’t be a drudgery: get in some target practice! Go out and fire a little lead or release a few arrows. Besides being enjoyable, you’ll see how your weapon is shooting, what your aim is, and can adjust accordingly before you sight in on that big buck.
Did you know tree stands accidents are the most common hunting mishaps in many states? Stands left up for months or even years are at the mercy of rain, snow, and squirrels. Bolts, hinges, and cables rust. Trees grow and straps strain. And wily bushytails love to gnaw on ropes, straps, and your cushy foam seat. That doesn’t bode well for a safe climb, stay, or descent.
Here are four recommendations from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help you stay safe in your stand:
- Understand manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using your tree stand and full-body harness (FBH).
- Check straps and chains every season and before each use. Look for signs of wear, fatigue, cracks, and loose or missing nuts or bolts.
- Practice at ground level with your tree stand and FBH with another person present before your hunt.
- Learn how to properly use your FBH with a suspension release device.
3. Know Your Area
If you’re hunting your own land, you probably know it well. But do you know your neighbor’s land—or even who they are? If the deer you’re tracking runs onto a bordering property, you’ll need permission to gain access. This is especially true in urban hunting.
Hunters have an ethical requirement to obtain permission from landowners to gain access to their property—and written permission if it’s posted. Make sure you get it before your hunt. Also know access, limitations, and layout of any new property or farm you’re granted permission to hunt on.
4. Know Your Strategy
Up to two months before your hunt is the time to make a hunting strategy—how you’re going to find deer or draw them to you for a quick kill shot. Since most whitetail hunters elect to draw deer in, here are key things to consider in your strategy:
- What is your deer inventory? How many are you going to harvest? Running a trail cam survey can help you figure out deer ratios, fundamentals of your herd, and pattern bucks.
- What deer are you going to hunt? Do you have a specific buck in mind? That affects where you put your tree stand and deer product. Click here to learn how to pick your shooter buck.
- Do you plan to use attractants? Choosing the right product can make the difference in bagging a deer or not. Redmond Apple or Cherry Bomb attractant and Bomb field spray is ridiculously effective at pulling deer in. Click below to learn more.
5. Know Your Contact
This is a trap even experienced hunters fall into: heading out to hunt on your own or climbing a tree stand without telling anyone. Guard against this kind of “I’ll be fine” mentality and never get lax on these four safety measures:
- Always hunt with a partner.
- Let a reliable person know where you’re hunting, who you’re with, and when you’ll be back.
- Leave a plan and map so they know where to find you if something unexpected happens.
- Communicate before and after using your tree stand. Text when you’re headed into your stand, when you’re in your seat and harnessed in, and when you’re safely back on the ground and unhooked.
6. Know Your Harvest Plan
Let’s say you haul in a deer this season. Congrats! Now what are you going to do with it? Harvesting is an important part of responsible deer management and taking care of your animal—and for that you need a plan. Consider these questions before you harvest:
- Do you know how to properly field dress a deer?
- Where are you going to hang your deer for butchering?
- Will you butcher the deer yourself or have it professionally done?
- Are you going to stock your own freezer, make jerky, or donate the meat?
- Do you plan to mount your deer, and do you have a taxidermist in place?
Following these six smart-hunter basics can help you hunt safely and have a better experience. Make every step a fun part of getting ready, and good luck! And don’t forget to click below to pick up some awesome Redmond deer minerals and attractant to improve your chances.
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