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Less packing time equals more hunting

COMMENTARY

How many hunting stories, or tall tales. begin with, “I know a guy?”

Do they really know “a guy”? I’m sure they do — I know I do. The guy I know is probably in his late 50s or early 60s and he’s a diehard hunter. He’s the kind of hunter that year after year, no matter the circumstances in weather, manages to kill a nice mature buck with either a bow or a gun. He also tags his fair share of spring gobblers as well.

Now, I’m not talking a streak of five or six years of success, I’m talking about nearly three decades of one successful harvest after another. I’ve always asked myself, how does he do it? So I finally manned up and asked him. His answer was a bit surprising when he simply said “just hunt.” He followed that up with, “Worrying about a million different things won’t get you anywhere. Just grab the bare essentials and get going. I’ve killed a nice deer a on a few occasions just convincing myself to go for a walk before dark.”

I followed this advice as much as I could after his revelation to me, and wouldn’t you know it, it paid off. One afternoon as I was packing up my things at work, I decided I wanted to go for an evening hunt. As I began to think about all the things I would have to get ready, I remembered a piece of my friends advice, bare essentials. So, as soon as I stepped into the room and changed into more proper hunting attire and headed to get my things, I went as basic as I could — ammo, gun, boots, license, car keys. Not going through my ritualistic checklist would come back to bite me a little bit later, but only in a way that made me laugh a little and shake my head.

I hit the woods about 30 minutes sooner than I normally would have if I’d taken the time to make sure I had everything that I needed, or thought I needed. After about a 10-minute walk across a field to hit the wood line, I looked down the ridge to catch movement. I was surprised to find a nice nine-point buck working his way to the field edge I was standing on. I settled in, pulled the trigger and less than twenty minutes into my trip, had a nice mature buck on the ground.

Let’s do the math on that real quick thirty minutes. Say your schedule accommodates a diehard hunting style and you’ll spend some combination of 20 days of various seasons hunting. That 30 minutes becomes 600 minutes and 10 hours of time in the woods — that’s an entire day’s worth of hunting time.

In the end, that thirty minutes I knocked of the beginning of my trip was the difference between that buck being across the field and on the neighbor’s property, or me spooking him in the field as I pulled up to the cattle gate to park my car. Oh yeah, the part about what bit me because I rushed out the door: I forgot my knife and drag rope, so I had to drag a non-field-dressed animal out of the woods with my belt.

Worth it.

I may have previously mentioned in another piece I wrote about the journal I keep of all my hunting excursions. As I often do, I went back through it looking for patterns pertaining to this topic, and sure enough, I found that the hunts where I hit the woods hard, fast, and without overthinking it, I had more success.

Whether it was with a gun or bow for deer, a shotgun for turkeys or a waterfowl hunt, when I focused less on minuscule things and more on getting to and being in the woods with the things I can control, I had more success.

Honestly, until you’ve killed a deer only to realize you’ve forgotten your knife, you’re missing out on a memory that will last a long time. Until you’ve had to use your belt as a makeshift drag rope, you truly haven’t lived.

Hunt hard, hunt safe and shoot straight, friends.

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John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.

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