As I sit down to write this, we are well into 2021 and planning for our upcoming hunting season. It does not seem like it has been six months since I was running all over the west bouncing from hunt to hunt. When I start my planning process each year, I try to look back on the previous season to figure out what things I can change to make me more successful. There is usually more than one thing I notice, but the biggest one for me is time.
Time is something we only have so much of each year, and it is also something that can be managed. In years past, I felt like having more hunts planned would result in more harvest. This has ended up backfiring on me more than once as I find myself rushing through one hunt to make it to the next without taking full advantage of the hunt I am on. My focus has also shifted from trying to fill as many tags as possible to wanting to enjoy the experience of the hunt and finding a mature animal. Sometimes you get lucky and harvest on the first day, and sometimes it gets dragged out until the last hour of the last day. However, as I look around and evaluate the guys I know who are consistently notching their tags, I know that they give themselves plenty of days in the field to make it happen.
Looking at this upcoming season, I plan on going on fewer hunts than the year before, but I am planning on more days in the field on each of those hunts. As I think back on years past, it seems like I have had the most success on hunts when I don’t feel rushed. I know if I only have five or six days scheduled for a hunt, I feel like I have to grind it out even if it’s not going as planned. However, if you give yourself 8-10 days, you can take a down day in the middle to refocus or move locations. I sometimes feel like a day off can really help you not “burn out.” I have talked to a lot of guys and friends over the years who head home early because the hunt wasn’t going as planned or they were tired, but as soon as they get home and have a day to relax, they immediately regret their decision and wish they would have stuck it out. There are also the hunts where you are backed up against a deadline and you are wishing you had one more day. Plan the days you need along with a day to kick your feet up in camp, run into town to grab a good burger and a beer, or Facetime your family. I know from experience that doing this can be a great reset both mentally and physically as it allows you to finish out a hunt strong.
We all want a fun experience and a successful hunt whenever we set out on a new adventure. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to feel like you did your tag justice, you were able to enjoy the experience, and you didn’t leave with regrets. Everyone has limitations on the amount of time their schedule will allow them, so plan accordingly and remember, time kills.