4 Things to Consider When Setting Goals for 2016 Hunts

   01.04.16

Don’t wait until the hunting urge hits you in summer, by then it may be too late. Right now is the time to plan for an exciting hunting adventure for next fall.

A goal is simply a dream with a deadline. Like most hunters, you have either read about or seen things that you would like to do someday. Maybe you have even made a list of the hunts you would like to experience in your life. If you haven’t now is the time to start making that list. You dreams become goals once you put the wheels under them. Put a timeframe on them and get them rolling.

The best way I have found to accomplish hunting goals is to decide which ones could be done right away, like in the year ahead. Then decide which ones you would like to experience within the next five years and then 10 years. Once you have categorized each of these goals, start listing the necessary steps so you can check them off as you accomplish them. Here are four pointers for helping you get things in order.

1. Tags and licenses

Some hunts require a tag that may take years to draw. Whitetail hunting in Iowa may take three year’s worth of preference points to draw. Elk hunting the best areas in the Rocky Mountains, Arizona, or New Mexico may take even longer. Some premium tags for sheep can take most of a lifetime.

The time to start is now. Learn the drawing process; this article will help you get started. Memberships to Hunting Fool or Eastmans’ Journals are good sources for this type of information. Some tags are available over the counter (often referred to as “OTC”), which gives you the opportunity to start out planning a hunt for this year right now.

2. Expectations, desires, and realities

Without a doubt, many hunters have unrealistic expectations about their dream hunts. Outdoor TV shows the climax of the hunts, the moments in which it all comes together. It doesn’t normally portray the difficulties, the roadblocks, and coming home empty-handed.

It’s really important to get your desires in line with both realities of the hunt both in terms of success rates and the realities of what you are capable of. If you are overweight and out of shape, there are some hunts that you simply cannot physically accomplish. Unless you have more determination than the average person, you simply can’t do it.

A do-it-yourself hunt is easier on the budget and more rewarding if you are successful, but it takes a lot of planning to be successful. Image courtesy of Bernie Barringer.
A do-it-yourself hunt is easier on the budget and more rewarding if you are successful, but it takes a lot of planning to be successful. Image courtesy of Bernie Barringer.

Some hunts have low success rates, and it may take several trips to bring home a game animal. However, if your expectations are simply to enjoy the new sounds, sights, smells, and experiences that a hunt offers, you may come away feeling like you had a successful hunt even without a cooler full of meat and a trophy for the wall.

There are some hunts that fit the 100 percent success rates guidelines. A spring bear hunt in central Canada is one. It’s a fun hunt with lots of adrenaline and your chances of coming home with a bear rug are almost assured, if you pick the right outfitter and don’t blow it when your opportunity comes. Expectations and desires are only defined by the goal-setter. Ask yourself what you really want, what you can afford, and be realistic about it.

3. Equipment needs

One thing that many hunters overlook about equipment is that you don’t have to wait until the last minute to buy it. There are things you can purchase now for an upcoming hunt that may not take place for several years. Why not split up the expenses over time?

Make a list for each hunt you want to experience and then list the equipment you will need. Look at the things you could purchase now. This can help you spread out the cost of the hunt over time, making the expensive hunts more doable. Even if you cannot purchase something right now, you can start researching the things you will need so you buy the right model you will need.

Can you picture yourself sitting behind a big bear like this one? Bear hunting is adrenaline charged and one of the least expensive guided hunts. Image courtesy of Bernie Barringer.
Can you picture yourself sitting behind a big bear like this one? Bear hunting is adrenaline charged and one of the least expensive guided hunts. Image courtesy of Bernie Barringer.

For example, many hunts have been ruined by new boots bought right before the hunt. Good boots are expensive and should be broken-in prior to the hunt. Get them well ahead of time. Same can be said for some items of clothing and even backpacks. If you are buying a new bow or gun, get it early and shoot it until it feels like a part of you. The moment of truth on these hunts tends to come at you suddenly—the more familiarity you have with your weapon the better the chance you are going to come through in the clutch if things get frantic.

4. Pre-hunt planning and research

Once you have decided the hunts you want to go on, it’s time to start planning. Start looking for the best areas to hunt your chosen species. The Boone and Crockett Club has an online trophy search that allows you to sort the states and counties within those states that produce the most trophies. Once you choose the specific area you want to hunt, then start looking at how to pull off a DIY hunt on public land if that is your desire, or start searching outfitters and calling references. The moment you finally send in your deposit and find your license in your mailbox, your heart will start beating a little faster because you will be one step closer to realizing your hunting dreams. Even the longest journey begins with the first step. Make that step today.

Follow Bernie’s bowhunting adventures on his blog, bowhuntingroad.com.

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