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Preparing for a Hunt by Tim Herald

Preparing for a Hunt

By Tim Herald

Books have been written about preparing for the season when you are hunting your home ground whether that be for deer, turkeys, western game, etc. But what can we do to prepare when we are going on a hunt where we have to travel a substantial distance from home where we can’t spend weeks scouting, preparing food plots, setting up trail cams, etc.? Often these hunts are ones we have paid a substantial amount of money for, and we want to make as much out of them as possible and do absolutely all we can to be well prepared and give ourselves the best chance at success. Afterall long drives or plane tickets, often outfitter costs, time away from work and family, and maybe even a coveted drawn tag come into consideration, these trips are an investment in both time and money.

The first thing I do is get a suggested gear list from an outfitter, or if it is a DIY hunt, I will research what gear I need, and begin accumulating what I don’t have or locating what I do have, months before the trip. I either use a list provided for me, or will come up with a list from research, and I only mark things off that list when they are actually packed in my duffle bag. I do this for every hunt, even if it is just going to an adjoining state to turkey hunt, and I have done the hunt numerous times in the past. Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for forgetting or not being able to obtain something you may really need on your hunt.

Many hunts are physical, and I try to get ready for trips by doing specific workouts depending on the hunt. For instance, to get ready to go on a safari where I plan to be on buffalo or elephant tracks walking many miles a day, or turkey hunts where I know I will be running and gunning, or spot and stalk hunts like those for pronghorn, I do a lot of cardio work. Doing fast walks outside are great, and I utilize an elliptical machine a lot as well. I try to do 5-6 miles which only takes 30-40 minutes if you push it and doing intervals of 1 minute jog and 30 seconds sprint, really helps in the field.

If I am going on a mountain hunt for elk, mule deer, ibex or sheep, I would still do the interval cardio, but I would also add in a lot of stair work whether outside or on a stairmaster, as well as concentrating on core workouts. This helps a lot when carrying heavy packs, riding horses, climbing steep inclines, etc.

I also do research and find out as much about the area I will be hunting as possible as well as the animal I am hunting if it is a new species. If it is an animal I don’t hunt often, I will try to learn as much as I can about what makes a trophy and look at as many photos and videos I can to get myself as knowledgeable as possible without boots on the ground.

Lastly, I always spend time at the shooting range. With rifles, the first thing is to find the load that your rifle shoots most accurately. This can mean trying a number of factory ammunition offerings or reloading and coming up with the best recipe.

I also try to research what typical shot distances are for the species/area I am hunting, and I practice from field positions. If I am doing a mountain hunt, I will try to shoot off a bipod, or resting on my backpack when I practice. If I am going to Africa, I will shoot off sticks while standing and kneeling at different distances, since that is how most shots are taken there. I will also try to do some rapid shooting and do series of 2-3 shots quickly to simulate taking follow up shots. I have found that Trijicon’s illuminated sights and scopes like the RMR Type 2 that I have on my dangerous game rifle and the AccuPoint that I have on many rifles make follow up shots very fast since I can really get back on target quickly and accurately with the illuminated aiming points.

Honestly, I find that preparing for a hunt by research, gear organization, physical workouts and range time are very enjoyable parts of the overall experience. The actual hunt may only be a few days or a week, but you can enjoy getting ready for a trip for months. If you have worked hard and prepared well, success will come more often and will be that much sweeter.

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