I was cruising one of those online hunting channels with the state of the art bows, guns, camo, calls, and the flashy girls. You know, the ones that have product in every shot. I thought to myself, cripes on a cracker this doesn’t look much like hunting.” About when I was about to click off, the very loud and animated host of the show said something like this, “In the industry of deer hunting, you have to be cutting edge.” He was all dramatic, holding some overpriced knife, probably made in some third world sweatshop by an 8 year old. “Industry? friggin industry?” It’s hunting bro. People use to do it with spears. Alright I get it. People make money on hunting. I try. I don’t even break even. Maybe I should be more industrious?
Nah. See you don’t need the greatest camo. You don’t need to bath in the freshest doe piss $100.00 can buy. You don’t need a $1200.00 rifle that has more attachments than a Marine infantryman’s black gun. You don’t even have to travel to far off exotic places to have a good time. You can hunt right in your area and be successful. What you need is the two W’s; will, and wood sense.
Will. The most important aspect of a routinely successful hunter is will. You have to be willing to get in the woods year round. You have to be willing to deal with rain, mud, and bugs in the spring. Heat, dense undergrowth and bugs in the summer, and deep snow and cold in the winter. You have to have the will to get up morning after morning during your chosen season and get after it. I mean really push. If you’re a stump sitter, you need to push to sit still and be alert. If you’re a tracker you need to push to read the pieces of the puzzle the deer is leaving and not just trudge along half in a daze wondering why you left your warm bed. If you’re a waterfowler you have to push to break ice, set out a good decoy spread, and have the discipline to wait for the best shot. Whatever your chosen form of hunting is you have to have the will to push beyond what is comfortable. When you do that you’ll see your success sky rocket.
Wood sense is a little harder. It comes with time. Understanding the flow of the terrain, the flow of the animals that use it, and how they come together. Understanding preferred food sources, and the subtle sign your quarry leaves in the snow, in the mud, or on the trees. Understanding how the wind affects waterfowl. Learning migration patterns and generational stopping points along those patterns. Knowing where to get the good southern sun on a cold day. How to build a fire if you get stranded? How to administer self-aid if you get hurt. How to navigate using a map and compass. I really believe that most people don’t push themselves because they fear getting lost, getting injured, or getting dead. A little fear is good for you. Know how to use your compass, have lineal terrain features like roads, rivers, and streams to guide you, or stop you, and you’ll be fine.
All of these things I discussed are free. I buy my hunting clothes at Goodwill. I have a great rifle now, but for years I hunted with one that cost me $200 and a 12 pack of Budweiser. I killed my biggest racked deer to date with that rifle. I carry a twenty-one-dollar compass, a 10-year-old GPS, a bottle of water, some matches and a knife that was given to me as a gift. I do alright.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money. You need to have the will, develop the wood sense, and realize that the trophy is the journey, not the kill. All of which is nearly free, however the return on your investment is a lot more than if you get caught up in the industry.
Don’t know where to start. Hire a guide to get you pointed in the right direction.