One of my biggest failings of last hunting season was my inability to get in proper shape. I have some medical issues which prevent me from running marathons or powering through a gym workout, but I could have lost more weight than I did. Losing weight cures a lot of ailments often experienced in the field and since I was hunting in Alaska, hills and mountains are the ultimate truth detectors of how good of shape someone is in.

I was on a goat hunt on Kodiak Island. Hills loom large there but if you take your time, an average hunter can make it to the top of most of them. During winter, daylight is limited and the short days only present a certain amount of time to climb, kill, field dress, skin, quarter up an animal and descend back to camp. So, you need to either be in good shape or be light enough to make it all happen in the allotted amount of day time. I blew an opportunity at harvesting a goat, but I also prevented myself from having other opportunities due to not being in good enough shape.

Another lesson that I learned was to limit how much gear and equipment I really needed during a day’s hunt. When my hunting partner and I actually started hunting, we were taking extra socks, extra clothes, multiple knives and other items that were great to have but they were luxuries that we ended up deciding we could not afford while climbing steep hillsides. When we finally figured out what our true priorities were, we eventually settled on wearing empty backpacks.

Finally, the one thing that I was not prepared for on my long Alaskan hunt was….failure. I failed to bring home an animal. I had killing opportunities but I failed to make the right decisions to bring home an animal. I failed to recognize lone chances and I failed to realize that weather is unpredictable. Being prepared physically is something tangible that is easily planned for, but being prepared mentally is an entirely different goal that should not be overlooked.