Well, that dreaded time of year is upon us where we recover our gear, revel in our successes afield and think about the opportunities missed and how to capitalize on them in the future. Although the doe season is still alive and well here in Kansas, I’m already scheming for next fall and looking at how I can have a season that will even hold a candle to this one.
When I look back on the season, the reality is that I really only had two opportunities at good “shooter” bucks…while I can’t complain at all about taking a 200” giant, I had relatively few opportunities compared to years past. I was very lucky to make the shot at the moment of truth, however I might have fared differently had my buck chosen a path only 5 yards away from where he did.
As with anything else in life where we strive to make ourselves better, it is necessary to reflect and make adjustments to improve our odds of success in the woods. Here are my New Year’s resolutions:
1. Practice perfection – I committed the cardinal sin of bowhunting this year. I failed to practice regularly. Though I can blame a deployment to Afghanistan for missing January thru May practice sessions, I have no excuse beyond that. It was easy to get caught up in my daily routine and rely upon 30+ years of archery experience to get me by, but it was not the right answer. We owe it to ourselves (and the deer) to be as proficient as we can be. Whether from the backyard deck or on the 3D range, opportunities abound to become an expert archer that can ethically take game.
2. Expand opportunities– While I enjoy access to multiple properties, I failed to knock on as many doors as I should have. I failed to take advantage of Missouri’s late season, mostly due to the fact that I’d put all of my “eggs in one basket”…I relied too heavily on one farm in the area. This resulted in my loss of that area when the crops were harvested and the fields tilled under early. The deer virtually vanished in the span of two weeks. I know that had I done my homework in the summer and secured some more land to hunt, I’d probably be in the woods today.
3. Get organized– One of the down-sides to filming hunts is the mountains of additional gear I’ve procured to professionally capture my hunts. While tools exist (like GamePlan Gear’s camera packs), I continually found myself over-laden with equipment, struggling to hit the stand in time to watch the sun rise. I felt like I never really got organized this year, despite my best efforts. This year I will take advantage of the off-season to come up with a system for hauling my gear to minimize weight and maximizing my mobility and efficiency.
4. Prepare early – Scouting time starts now. Many hunters favor a warm winter’s couch, failing to take advantage of the great indicators of deer activity that snow-cover provides. Tons of information about bedding areas, preferred food sources and travel corridors can be gleaned by getting out in the woods in February/March, whether looking for a shed or two or getting after some ‘yotes. Outdoor forays into your deer habitat can pay huge dividends in 10 months.
These are just a few of my resolutions. Like many of the best-laid weight loss or exercise plans, some of these will fall off or fail to materialize as I start the new year, but I’d like to think that if I set these goals and share them with you, I’ll be able to better hold myself accountable. Hopefully all had a great holiday season. Here’s to a fantastic new year!