Like a September buck on a consistent feeding pattern, humans are creatures of habit. We tend to do things the way we’ve always done them and then act surprised when we get a result short of what we expected. These five habits will not only have tangible benefits in your everyday life, but may also help you find more success in the field.
In a world of dwindling private land hunting access, oftentimes, you need to think outside the box to find success. If you hunt public land that sees heavy hunting pressure, the picture-perfect deer hunting spots will likely each have a lock-on stand or two and see hunters each and every weekend.
Mature deer learn really quickly to vacate these idyllic habitats. Instead, they take refuge in marginal habitats, often areas that are heavily vegetated, obscure, and virtually free of human hunting pressure.
To find these weary old bucks, sometimes it takes unconventional thinking. Check out that slough that nobody ever hunts, small timber patch, CRP field, or some gnarly steep terrain. By thinking outside the box and hunting unconventional places, you can use public hunting pressure to your advantage and put deer virtually in your lap.
Sam Davis is an absolute killer and a perfect example of what mental toughness and positivity can do for us deer hunters. When asked what the secret is, Davis claimed that “if I had a secret leading to my success, it would be my never quit attitude. Not willing to give up until I absolutely have to has led me to more than one successful hunt. I am always willing to push on.” Davis lives by the motto, “predators never quit,” and the results speak for themselves.
Everybody knows that negativity is contagious, but what we often don’t notice is when we’re caught in a negative space ourselves. This negativity can come upon us like brain fog, affecting our decision-making and the overall enjoyment of the hunt. After all, chasing deer is what we live for. We might only get out a handful of times each season, so why let a negative attitude creep in and cut the hunt short?
If you spend any amount of time on social media, it looks like some folks shoot a monster buck every time they step foot in the woods. What you don’t see in the social media highlight reel is all the hard work and preparation that likely lead to that success. Success favors the prepared, and hunting is no exception.
With full-time jobs, family obligations, household chores, and whatever other responsibilities you may have, we need to make the most of our limited time afield. This means doing everything possible to be totally prepared for your next hunt. In Davis’ experience, “with a family now, I don’t spend as much time scouting as I used to,” he said. “I rely on past knowledge and more e-scouting to get new areas figured out. However, I do have seven or eight plans prepared, just in case my scouting wasn’t spot on.”
“When I think of habits or routines that attribute to my success, I think of consistency,” Davis said. “I always say, consistency creates dedication, dedication creates consistency. I shoot regularly, I know my equipment, and I work out every day.”
I asked Sam his advice for hunters looking to find consistent success. “Be the best husband, boyfriend, father, etc. you can be in the offseason,” Davis replied. “Be a good family man when you are home so you can enjoy your time in the field. Focus on animal behavior, stalking, thermals, and how to survive out in the hills. Gear gets talked about way too much. There is a lot more to killing an animal than looking cool in the newest camo pattern. Figure out an arrow setup that flies accurately and use it. Then get out and buy as many tags as you can and hunt. That’s how you get better at hunting.”
It’s human nature to give our attention to things that are going wrong and need our attention. Perhaps you haven’t seen a buck in eight consecutive hunts. Maybe you ran into other hunters in your last resort honey hole. Whatever the cause, it’s far too easy to dwell on things gone wrong.
This has long been one of my personal shortcomings and one that I must talk myself through each fall. As they say in golf, forget about your last shot. The only one you can control is your next shot. As hunters, we come home empty-handed far more often than we succeed in filing a tag. Gather any knowledge you’ve learned up to this point and apply it to your next hunt.
Feature image via Captured Creative.