In a perfect world there would be no preparation for hunting season. Since we all work out and shoot our rifles on a regular basis, all that should be needed is a prime private property where the landowner points out which draw the big bucks have been hanging out in for the past month. Reality is usually somewhat less perfect, such as digging the wool socks out of the closet the night before and sharpening our knife sometime after midnight.
So what are reasonable steps to prepare for hunting season? Trying to build as much hunting and outdoor sports into your regular routines as possible will eliminate the last minute rush and give you an edge on your hunting senses. Scouting, hiking, foraging and fishing trips in your hunting areas in the offseason help to stay fit and alert to the outdoors and the areas animals are frequenting.
Working out can take many shapes and forms. Vigorous exercise at least 4 times a week keeps me ready to hunt. Slacking below four weekly workouts leaves me lethargic and unsatisfied. My workouts vary a lot as I don’t like to stare at the same four walls every time. Walking, especially up hills and particularly in the woods, is the perfect hunting workout. I also canoe, play volleyball, lift weights, pour concrete, and chase other critters hither and yonder in the course of a week. Sometimes I even hit the cardio machines at the local YMCA. The point is to stay at a reasonably high level of fitness so that a week in the woods is complementary to your normal lifestyle.
Depending on what kind of hunting you plan to do, shooting and keeping up your equipment is also fundamental to success. If you archery hunt, the week before season is not the time to pick up your bow. Shoot all summer long. Rifle hunting is a little different. If you are already familiar with your gun, two trips to the range will do the trick. If you are just starting shooting sports, make it your hobby to shoot twice a month all summer. The more you vary your shooting positions and distance the better. Practice out to whatever distance you expect your longest shot to be. With modern rifles a 400 yard shot is very doable, if you have practiced shooting under field conditions at that distance.
If you don’t know where you will hunt or have a lot of options the only way to succeed on a regular basis is to put some miles on the pickup truck and your boots. Talk with other hunters and game biologists and then explore some new territory. This ties in well with fitness goals and lets you avoid learning the unproductive areas during hunting season.
By building hunting into your lifestyle you cut down on the purposeful pre season preparation. If you hit the woods often and shoot and hike, you are well on your way to success as well as avoiding the last minute rush of pulling together everything the week before season starts.