For most hunters, the season has come to a close and we are left to reflect on this year’s successes and mistakes. Soon, most of us will be looking forward to next year and there is no better time to start planning for next year then right now.
Most outfitters and guides have just wrapped up their seasons and although they probably would like a break from talking to hunters and potential hunters, now is the best time to get a fresh report on this year’s season before it becomes an afterthought or old news. What was the best time to hunt? Did the weather or moon seem to have any impact on the overall chance at success? Can you give me some of this year’s references?
Checking references is an under-rated, low-tech method of gathering intel on an outfitter and his operation, and getting that intel unsullied by time makes it even more important as most hunters are still re-living their hunts and remembering their impressions.
As far as leases go, most leases run out right after hunting season, so now is the time to make a query to landowners about that special piece of land that you have had your eye on that has been tied up in a previous lease. One resource I check is www.nationalhuntingleases.com. Membership is free. Even if you cannot afford some of the leases featured there, there are other resources on the site that can help you learn about leasing ground.
If you are limited on money but would still like to lease a piece of your own hunting land, think small. I have written before about micro-leases and how they should never be overlooked. I have taken two of my best Whitetail deer on tiny tracts of land that were in strategic locations. If you are interested in finding a small chunk of hunting heaven, find out where the best large acreages are and then search their perimeters for micro-leases. Look for 5, 10, and 20 acres at a time. This could be your way of hunting prime areas by yourself without the threat of anyone else trying to poach your lease.
Finally, if a guided, semi-guided or do-it-yourself hunt is what you want, signing up early is always best as you can make sure you put in for your tags on time. If you are competing with others on a calendar, you will be one of the first to get penciled in.
Most importantly: don’t waste time, because we all know that next year always comes up fast.