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Successful Hunting

By Russ Van Orman

A successful hunter requires several different elements of preparation to come to gather. Those include tactics, accuracy, and equipment. Tied together with some luck, you can have a successful hunt.

Tactics include knowing the game you are hunting. For instance, understanding the travel patterns, when the rut is, how the weather and hunting pressure will affect the pursuit, learning where the animals might go for food, water, and security along with learning about the animals biology. Using and applying available technology will enhance your tactical advantage.

Once you have this knowledge then you can apply the techniques that can provide for successful hunt. For example, on a hunt in Montana, my guide and I went to same location every day. He knew the travel patterns of the elk; therefore, it would be just a matter of time before a bull would walk into my sights. However, after three days of only seeing cows and calves he made the suggestion that we should leave an hour earlier than our regular start time. That tactic paid off with the harvest of a 300 class bull.

Another good example was a DIY hunt in Oregon’s White River unit close to Mount Hood. I had scouted this area in late August and September before the season started. My friend Brian and I had only four or five hours of hunting time because of prior commitments. With my scouting knowledge, I suggest we hunt an isolated clear cut that was a mile or so off a forest service road. We started hiking early and got to the clear cut just when the sun was rising over the tree tops.  n hunting this area before, I knew many of the hunters would hunt the clear cuts next to the road which would push the deer deeper into the forest. This tactic paid off. I harvested a large 5X6 Black tail with double eye guards, 10 yards within the tree line that surrounded the clear cut. Yes. We made it back home in time to meet our obligations.

Accuracy whether you are hunting with a bow, rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader or pistol is paramount in having a successful hunt. The old adage that practice makes perfect couldn’t be truer here. Whatever method you choose to harvest your game; try different bullet weights, types of arrows, powder loads until you find the optimum for harvesting your game. Shoot from different positions and in different weather conditions to see how you and your weapon of choice react.  Hunting doesn’t give us a perfect shot every time an opportunity presents itself.

Recently, on Montana hunt I used tactics to get above a herd of about thirty elk. In the herd there was decent bull. I waited three hours before a shot presented itself down a steep decline. Understanding how my body would react to sitting for that long, I made sure my core was keep warm with heat packs and a high energy snack. I did shiver once in a while, huddled against large boulder that was my cover. When the shot presented itself, I made sure my rifle was dead rested on the boulder and calmly breathed out as the trigger was squeezed. The bull drop in its tracks with one well-placed shot. Understanding, how you interact with your weapon and its capabilities in different conditions is an absolute in order to have a successful hunt.

Equipment includes the clothes we wear hunting, boots, transportation, knives, binoculars, GPS’s, ranger finders, packs and other gear. The equipment we use on a hunt is directly related to how, what, and when we hunt.

Dependent on the temperature, you should dress in layers. Especially, your outer layer of clothing should be fleece, wool or some other material that is going to be silent as you stalk and travel through the woods. Gortex will provide added protection against wet weather encountered while hunting. I like to have clothing with some kind of scent control for an added advantage when stalking game. Underneath my outer layer, I wear a wind proof vest over a fleece pullover that is wind proof, too.  My pants are fleece with Gortex. The next layer is designed to wick sweat away from my body enabling me retain my core body temperature. To be a successful hunter you need to stay warm and comfortable while braving nature’s elements. Boots need to be warm, waterproof, and support your feet. The degree of warmth will largely depend on the time of year and where you hunt. If you can budget it, have a couple of pair boots one for warmer weather and another for colder temperatures.

You will need dependable transportation to take to the place of your hunt. Unless, of course you’re fortunate enough to walk out into your back yard and start hunting. Where I hunt in Oregon and Montana, a four wheel drive isn’t a “wish I had” but “a must have”. Before you hunt don’t forget check your vehicle for maintenance. Does it need an oil change? How is the battery? Nothing can ruin hunt faster than car problems. A little maintenance can go a long way in helping you achieve success.

A good knife is an essential hunting tool; from cutting rope, to cleaning and quartering your game. A well sharpened knife will aid in making your hunt more successful. If you have the room to carry an extra knife, do so because this will enable you to keep one for cleaning your game and the other to skin your game out.

Binoculars, GPS’s, and ranger finders; these items no matter where you hunt are basic elements to any successful hunt. Binoculars provide more detail than your eyes can see plus in low light conditions you will be able to hunt longer. On my last Montana hunt I was able to watch elk over a mile away enabling me to plan my strategy. A set of binoculars equals success.  A GPS will enable you to mark where you see game, where boundary areas exist, prevent you from getting lost and plot way points.  Whenever, I am hunting my GPS goes with me.  A range finder is one the best pieces of hunting technology you can own, no matter what your weapon of choice. It provides you with accurate shooting distances so you can gauge your shot placement.

A good pack is required to carry water to prevent dehydration, snacks and other items such as rope, a first aid kit, extra socks, etc… Your pack should be made of a quite material and water proof.

I am sure you have heard “Where preparation meets luck that equals success”. So start preparing because sooner or later “luck” will appear.