Less packing time equals more hunting


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.


John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)