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Take Time Now to Avoid Wasted Time During Bow Season

Hunting time is both precious and limited. Prepare to make the most of every hour.

Take Time Now to Avoid Wasted Time During Bow Season

There are few secret spots left on public lands due to the advent of electronic scouting. Identify numerous target areas so you have abundant options for dealing with pressure. (Photo courtesy of ALPS Brands)

The truth is, none of us probably has as much time as we’d like to spend in the woods, and as life gets more and more hectic, that time seems to dwindle to even less. I’m certainly right there with everyone else. My hunting time is easy to summarize: weekends and one week of vacation time each year. That’s it. There’s no wiggle room, no variance.

What’s odd is I still have the same goals, drive and expectations I had when I was able to spend much more time chasing bucks with a bow. I’m going to hunt at least three states this fall, and I have every intention of filling every buck tag I have available. To do this, I make sure I waste as little time as possible. The key to making the most of every available hunting hour is in the preparation, and the most important prep work begins right now.

BEYOND SCOUTING

No, I’m not talking about preseason scouting. In fact, over the past few years, I’ve spent considerably less time on traditional preseason scouting efforts. This is partly a function of available time and a function of experience. The bottom line is I simply don’t see enough value in preseason scouting efforts to spend my limited time available to it. I hunt a lot of places that are far from home, and every place that I hunt sees plenty of hunting pressure.

Experience has shown that as hunting pressure has increased, especially on public land, the more detrimental preseason scouting efforts are. Instead, I focus almost exclusively on in-season, on-the-fly scouting that places heavy emphasis on active scrapes and monitoring current hunting pressure. That leaves the weeks just prior to season openers to taking care of the things that will make the hours I have to hunt more efficient.

GET ORGANIZED

I’ve adopted a simplistic approach to managing the various aspects of my hunting. This starts with eliminating clutter. I used to have a room filled with all sorts of hunting-related gear. Clothing, boots, gloves, vests, optics, arrows, accessories—you name it, I had it in spades. After realizing how much gear clutter I had, I took some time to truly analyze just how much of the stuff I was using.

While doing my gear evaluation, I determined if it was important or not to keep it. It quickly became obvious that all the “stuff” wasn’t doing much, aside from taking up space. And, of course, it was costing me precious time sifting through piles of gear to find the things I truly needed.

Following this epiphany, I embarked on a massive gear purge. Today, everything I need to hunt is in one single tote. I keep that tote packed from the opening of the season to the end, and it’s always stored in my truck.

Now, I’m ready to hunt and I know where everything is. My bow is in its case and my pack is stashed next to it all. No matter the day, the time or the place, I have what I need to hunt, and I never waste time searching frantically for things or run the risk of leaving something at home.

hunter with map
Don’t get caught in a digital rut. Gather as much information as you can from a variety of sources when scouting distant areas. (Photo courtesy of HuntStand)

UNLIMITED OPTIONS

When I first started hunting on public land, I would hit an area with two, maybe three options in mind that I had digitally scouted. And, honestly, that was about all that was needed, as public land wasn’t the draw that it is today.




Those days are long, long gone. It seems there are no secrets left. There are few public areas that don’t draw at least some measure of pressure. Heading out on a week of vacation with just two or three options in mind is a sure-fire recipe for frustration and failure.

Now, I spent an incredible amount of time scouring maps, digesting data and marking as many locations on digital maps as I can. When I hit the ground, I’m ready to run and I don’t waste time on areas that show signs of moderate to heavy hunting pressure.

This pre-hunt work saves me time. By looking at online maps and other available area information, I can reasonably predict hunting pressure for the most part. By doing so, I save myself a great deal of wasted effort by avoiding these areas once it’s time to hunt.

Recommended


Over the years, I have learned it’s far more productive to hunt less-than-ideal areas than to try to force a highly pressured, prime piece of public ground into producing. Without my off-season scouting regimen, I’d struggle to locate these areas and undoubtably waste precious time in the process.

  • This article was featured in the August 2023 issue of Game & Fish Magazine. How to subscribe.

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