Hunt smarter, NOT harder!
All year long, I keep these four words in mind. When I’m applying for a tag, for instance, I might be tempted to apply for an area that had good hunting in years past, but now sucks. I might be tempted to hunt an area close to home and practically kill myself for days on end looking for a good buck, when I know I could have gone to a farther-away unit and been guaranteed a bigger buck. Sometimes it’s the third day of a slow hunt and I’m tempted to sleep in and recuperate, and then hunt the rest of the day. But I know more than anything that my best odds of intercepting a deer is very early in the morning.
You get the idea.
All of this was born out of the hunt for the infamous Drop-tine buck in 2010. For a while, I wondered how this magnificent, one-in-a-million, double-droptine buck managed to elude hunters for eight years while living less than half a mile from the busiest dirt road. By the third year of hunting the Drop-tine Buck, I realized that 99% of the hunters either didn’t get off their ATV weren’t willing to hike very far from it.
More importantly, I realized that amazing bucks often live just off the side of the road. You just need to know where to look for them. This requires you to learn a little about deer behavior and diet. It also requires that you hunt smarter, not harder. While some hunters are repelling up a cliff in search of the ever-elusive big-buck, I might be wandering within shouting distance of the highway and stirring up even bigger bucks!
With ever-increasing obligations these days, time is in short supply for most of us. We need to learn how to become more efficient predators, and not with new gear but new information. I often warn people about the pitfall of gear. The gear won’t save you. Focus on the improving your skills first! Spend more time scouting and less time buying stuff.
Right now, we’re sitting in the middle of the off-season. What a perfect time to invest in our priceless, upcoming hunts by learning, studying, and scouting. More than any other time in history, there’s a great wealth of information being published about modern game animals and hunting techniques. Below, I’ve listed the absolute best books that have helped me maximize my time in the field. Remember, information is power.
Blood in the Tracks, by Jim Collyer
Mule Deer Quest, by Walt Prothero
Public Land Mulies, by David Long
Mule Deer: A Handbook for Utah Hunters and Landowners, by Dennis D. Austin
…and don’t forget my eBook (shameless plug), Zen Hunting.