In life, as we know it today, it’s hard to slow down and smell the roses. Like most people who hunt, you want to make time for your family and friends, but work also has a place in your schedule. The ideas you had of scouting every inch of 5000 acres or hunting 41 days of a 42-day season might now seem like a distant memory.
Happily, there is good news in the modern world of bow hunting. Studying ways to make your hunts efficient is the silver lining to quality time in the woods.
I took some time to seek out a handful of the most efficient hunters I could find so they could give their thoughts to you. What they shared with me is advice you’ll want to take to the woods on all your hunts. I’m sure you’ll enjoy what they had to say as much as I did.
Dan is the host of Nine Finger Chronicles Podcast Well known for being witty, he takes whitetail hunting quite seriously. He and I had a free minute to talk between some dad duties about his bottom line for hunting whitetails. Here’s what he had to say.
“You need to maintain the hunting mentality throughout the year. Something like e-scouting is a good way to do just that. You could be having your morning sit on the throne or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, but pulling up HuntStand, or your choice hunt app is a good habit. That steady contact with a hunting mindset will make your wheels spin and keep you in the hunt. Researching access routes or assessing what the wind might do in certain places are good ways to guide your plan. It doesn’t matter if the parcel is public, private, overlooked, or underrated. Learning what ground you’d like to add or eliminate before you ever set foot in an area is efficiency at its finest.”
What Dan says in his quotes ring true. This part of the hunt is so important and can give you a head start without stepping into the timber.
Does Andy May ( @bowhuntingdad) need an intro? The man is a bow-killing machine and is one of the best we’ve seen in our time. Well known for always being efficient, Andy said this.
“I can’t give a topic like efficiency what it deserves without discussing a few things—discipline, scouting, patience, and instinct.
-Be disciplined in your ability to master your weapon. You have to be able to convert the limited chances that you’ll get each season. Making a clean kill with every arrow released should be every hunter’s main goal.
– Scout five to ten times more than you hunt. If I’m planning to sit in a tree, it’s because I believe there is a high percentage chance of killing that day.
-Wait for the best conditions. Efficiency means more success in fewer attempts. If you’re patient and stay out of your best areas until the time is right, your chances get much better.
-Develop your instincts, trust them, and they will serve you well in time. Let your gut guide you to aggressive tactics. You will undoubtedly make mistakes. In the long run, you will learn from those experiences and be more successful because of them.”
Andy’s attention to discipline is not easy, but it’s a big part of what makes him prone to success.
If you want to learn a thing or two about eastern big woods, you need to tune in to Billy Harvey’s Pertnear Outdoors Podcast. Though this group of hunters puts effort into all they do, their mastery of driving deer is hard to match. These well-planned deer drives are refined and unique. Later this fall, we will dive into this in a full post, but here we will look at a few things that Billy shared about becoming an efficient hunter.
“A few key takeaways go into an efficient deer drive. First and foremost is safety, followed by a detailed plan, ending with being prepared to make a good shot.
-Communication is an important part of safety. But it can be tricky in places without cell service. You also need to consider the legal aspect of using a device when hunting.
-All hunters are assigned a number, route, or stand location in our drives. Paper maps with a hand-drawn blueprint and written notes create the base of our plan.”
-Review of the plan takes place with a fine-toothed comb before getting into position.
-Choosing shooting lanes and creating a brace with a log or backpack should be done when setting up for the drive. Freehand shots are more likely to end badly on a drive.
Whether a drive is formed with six people or eighteen, the percentage of success is about the same. Match the number of hunters to the size of the ground you’re driving. Using too few hunters in a large area leaves a lot of ground uncovered and room for deer to sneak through the cracks.”
The success of the Pertnear hunters speaks for itself. This past fall, 2022, they took five good bucks with a group totaling eighteen drivers and standers.
You’ll often hear of the ups and downs in bowhunting. From personal venture and as one of my closest friends, I’ve been riding the glory train as well as the struggle bus with Troy. Troy is one of the most diehard hunters I know, and he sure did have an awesome 2022 (check him out @dtrx_outfitters). We’ve learned a ton from one another over the last few years. You will relate to Troy’s approach to being the best he can be!
“Be confident and strategic. Plan for every hunt, but don’t overthink. Going with your gut is often the best advice making it ok to change a plan in the field by using the most recent intel (MRI). That intel can lead you to find the unexpected. The more puzzle pieces you have to back your hunt, the easier it will be to have confidence on stand. Hunting doe bedding in the rut without a buck encounter might be a bummer. But what if does came to that bedding, laid down for a whole afternoon, and didn’t detect you? Take that as a WIN. That day, a buck might not have used that spot; moving forward, you will know how to hunt there. If your hunt didn’t end with a kill, it doesn’t mean it was unsuccessful. Consider all your learning and pull the good out of the hunt.”
When I reviewed Troy’s notes, I couldn’t help but think I’d heard something else like it. “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV
If someone asked me to describe Cam in one word, efficient is the word that belongs to his name. He is The Deer Gear Podcast guy, but not enough people know that Cam is a plain old whitetail killer. Pure and simple, this is what he had to say.
“Always start by tuning your setup. The things you can control, from your clothing to your bow or an actual method of hunting, look at all parts with detail. E-scouting, boots on the ground scouting, and having a plan of attack are all important aspects of hunting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a ground guy, a saddle hunter, or if you pack in a tree stand. Your moving parts must work together for the best possible outcome.”
Follow Cameron, and you’ll know what he means when he says things must work together. Every piece of gear he uses works with synergy to make all his hunts worth their weight in gold.
Taking It Home
There is plenty that we can all learn from these five stud hunters. Most importantly, they are driven to continually evolve their own skill set. Preparation, instinct, scouting, tuning your bow and making hunt plans. Of all the “things” we put into hunting, it’s important to remember what we take from it. The “why” we hunt in the first place.