I asked a few of our Pro Staffers to lend me a hand to address some hunting fails, mistakes and brain farts. We’ve hunted different animals in different places with different tactics so the stories and advice varies. I’ll go first!
Take a flashlight! I was bear hunting in Idaho and had to hike out after dark. Sure, my iPhone has a lovely little LED light, but it is no match for the Idaho wilderness! I carry a flashlight when flying on a plane so I have no idea why I didn’t have one that evening. Classic brain fart.
We shared a story here on SHWAT.com about an epic hunting fail. A downed and presumably dead animal was tagged and being photographed when it decided to jump up and run off! Then other hunters shot it creating an awkward situation. Huge mistake! So, make sure dead is DEAD!
I was told about a hog hunt gone bad a few years ago. It seems the hunters didn’t know their thermal optics and didn’t think on top of that. As a result, when they opened fire they got steak instead of pork. That’s bad, in case you didn’t get it. Really really bad. Don’t be those guys. Know your gear, its limitations, and use the gray stuff between your ears. Remember, “Know your target and what’s behind it” is a cardinal rule!
For the most part, I’m a mountain big game hunter. Considering the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made hunting is an interesting exercise. Every hunt is an opportunity to learn, grow and add to your toolbox of hunting tricks with the hope of cutting out those huge hunting faux pax. Like anyone, I have a list of woulda, shoulda, coulda’s from hunts. I’ll share a few of the tricks in my toolbox I’ve adapted in light of those errors and some that come from not making perhaps a way bigger mistake. What’s that, you ask? Not asking for advice, of course! Happily, I’ve had good mentors – older, wiser outdoorsman – who shared most of these tricks with me. Who knows how many missteps and fails I’ve avoided thanks to their generous input! Every hunting mistake I’ve made was because I ignored one or more of these. Hopefully they will help you, as they have me. Enjoy!
Trick 1 – If you think you’re hunting slow, SLOW DOWN!
Trick 2 – Don’t hunt where the animals should be, hunt where the animals ARE.
Trick 3 – Every one of those animals has seen a friend/relative get killed. They are on their game so be on yours!
Trick 4 – She may not fill a wall, but she’ll fill a freezer.
Trick 5 – Aim small, miss small.
Trick 6 – The mountain is the boss. Respect it!
Trick 7 – Hunt the wind…ALWAYS!
Trick 8 – Don’t take an animal down if you can’t take it out. DUH!
Understand Your Environment – Casey Jones
The biggest mistake I see hunters make, especially newer hunters, is not paying attention to the environment and conditions they are hunting in. The wind is a big factor here. It doesn’t matter how many precautions you have taken to eliminate your scent, if you get on the wrong side of the wind it can ruin a hunt. The direction of the wind is important but the speed of the wind is often an overlooked factor. A lot of times a 3 mph wind is more dangerous than a 20 mph wind and stronger winds can help mask your noise signature.
The other common hiccup I see people have when it comes to their environment is not knowing how to stay hidden. This is more than just camouflage, you must understand the direction of the sun versus you and your game and make sure you are not lighting yourself up like a Christmas tree. Use shadows and cover to your advantage as you move and if you are stand hunting know which times of the day the sun will highlight you. If you stay patient and take time to think through these factors before you start a stalk or pick a stand it will greatly increase your chances of having a successful hunt.
Preparation starts early, build a checklist, and like Santa Clause check it twice. I’m notorious for leaving stuff important stuff like batteries at home, even big important stuff on occasion. Now that I think about it, have you ever priced 123 batteries at a roadside store in rural America? It’s certifiably brutal.
My hunts start in the vehicle and not thinking about this can cost. For safety’s sake, some will argue you shouldn’t have your gun loaded in the vehicle, and I respect that position. Maybe the laws in your situation dictate that you cannot. But I’ve lost track of how many times I didn’t have my gun loaded when I came across hogs off the side of the road as spontaneous at targets of opportunity. Nothing like the adrenaline of bailing out of the truck, running twenty yards, throwing the safety to fire, then pulling the trigger only to realize the magazine or chamber is empty. Maybe you know the feeling?
While in the field, make sure you have extra supplies. The worst feeling is having a thermal die or your bolt lock back because the mag is empty and all the batteries and extra mags are in the truck. Both of these things have happened to me, don’t let them happen to you!
One other mistake that you can easily avoid – being underdressed. No, not cold, and not a coat and tie. What you need are shirts, tumblers, hoodies and more from SHWAToutfitters!
Now, what about you (asking for a friend!)? Any fails, missteps or other mistakes you want to share? Put them in the comments below, no login required!