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Hunting Prep in the Offseason: Staying Sharp

In the first two parts of this series, I talked about the necessity of getting into and staying in physical shape to increase your chances of a successful hunt. I then went on to talk about the importance of scouting out the area where you intend to hunt during the offseason long before you actually go hunting.  Being prepared is essential to enjoying a safe and profitable hunting season. Staying sharp throughout the offseason is another excellent way to maintain, develop, and improve your skills.

It’s always a good idea to continue practicing throughout the offseason no matter what kind of weapon you chose to use. As we all know, it is proper sportsmanship and ethically correct to kill the animal as quickly and as painlessly as possible.  If you don’t use your skills daily (no matter what type of skills we’re talking about), they tend to get rusty and will need some work to bring them back to the level where they once were. This is the same for your hunting skills.  The offseason is an excellent time to work on honing your skills and making sure you are ready when the season opens.

How to Stay Sharp

Even if you’ve been hunting for years, using your preferred weapon of choice, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still practice during the offseason.  In fact, the offseason is the perfect time to practice and improve your skills. The old adage rings true even for hunting – practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the more proficient you are going to become.

Archery Hunting

If you are archery hunting, you need to continue practicing with your bow, finding your comfortable shots.  Practice shooting at different distances, using different shaped and sized targets placed at varying distances.  It’s not necessary to purchase the most expensive target products available; you can make your own targets and customize them towards your preferences.  A pack of paper plates went a long way toward this when I was growing up. Perform some research the Internet and hunting sites for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and ideas.  By using targets at different distances, this will help you guess your ranges in case you do not have, or do not have time to, use a range finder.

While hunting, you’re never sure what position you may have to assume to get a good shot at your animal.  Practice shooting your bow from several different positions: sitting, kneeling, lying facedown on your belly, and standing.  Set up practice areas with brush and shrubbery that you can use for cover, and practice shooting your bow through the obstacles. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses in each position will benefit your performance and allow you to work harder on improving areas that are not as strong.

Fire Arms

When dealing with firearms, you should spend the offseason practicing things that will keep you shooting well during the hunting season.  Set up targets of different sizes and shapes and place them at various distances.  Include some smaller targets at far distances to help you work on getting a good bead from a distance.  An important factor that is oftentimes forgotten is to practice on your breathing while working on your shooting skills.  Remembering to breathe slow and steady will help your aim and concentration.  Try out and use different breathing techniques to see how they help or hinder your aim.

Again it is important to be prepared for any scenario, so set up various targets and practice shooting at them from different variations such as sitting prone, standing, crouching, lying down on your belly, kneeling, and from behind cover.  If you have the opportunity to practice in an area that resembles where you are going to be hunting, you can practice gauging the distances you will be shooting at. You should continue practice through the offseason, honing your skills for the hunting season.

Don’t be unprepared when hunting season opens.  Be sure you start now, if you haven’t already, getting into shape physically.  Being in the best physical shape you possibly can be in will help to keep you and others in your party safe as well as making the expedition more enjoyable and profitable.  Scouting out the hunting grounds where you will be going will give you an added edge, helping you to identify with the terrain, animal tracks and water sources available.  Regular usage and honing of your skills will ensure that when you have your target in site, you will be much more able to make a good, clean kill.  The offseason is the best time to prepare yourself for when the hunting season officially opens. By doing these things, you will definitely be ahead of the game.

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