Yep, we're talking to you, know-it-all hunter. You've been at this for a while, but we're pretty sure nobody's perfect. Check your ego at the door and read up on the skills we all need to remember. Sure, there's plenty of opinions that exist on how to pull off a successful hunt, but a few hard-and-fast rules really exist. Consider this our checklist.
If you're breaking any of these commonsense commandments you can assuredly kiss success goodbye. Click through the photos below and tell us which hunting basics you're trying to improve upon this season.
No. 1: Working the Wind
The most important and basic of hunting tenets: Ignore wind direction at your own peril. You can use the most expensive camo scent-controlling clothing, slather yourself in odor-killing soap like a pig in barbecue sauce and fire a half-inch group at 300 yards, but if you don't heed wind direction it's all for naught. Choosing treestand locations, waterfowl blinds and spread formations or setup spots for predators all depends on which direction the wind is blowing and how it's carrying your scent over the landscape.
No. 6: Scouting
Just showing up ain't going to cut it. You have to understand not just the habits of the animals--deer, birds and predators--you're pursuing in general, but in your local area and specifically where you have access to hunt. It doesn't matter if you're setting up a blind or treestand on public land or a piece of private property, knowing how and when your quarry uses the terrain is of utmost importance. That's hunting at its core, just showing up is nature watching. So, go pick up a few trail cams, treestands and spend the time it takes to make it happen.
No. 5: Becoming Familiar with Your Weapon
It's as basic as it gets. You have to know your weapon--firearm, bow or crossbow--inside and out. You have to be proficient enough with it to use it under the pressure of an adrenaline rush and time constraints and shooting angles presented by living, breathing creatures. Ethically, you owe it to your quarry. This includes a quick follow-up shot if necessary, and that type of familiarity only comes from hours pulling the trigger or bowstring on the range.
No. 3: Understanding Your Quarry
As hunters we're part scientist, entomologist, biologist, ecologist, naturalist and, well, predator. Consistent success in the field, any hunting field, mandates that you understand the feeding, sleeping, breeding and movement habits of your quarry. Not doing so relegates you to depending upon luck. Make sure you study this season.
No. 4: Camouflaging Yourself
It doesn't matter if you use traditional leaf-and-timber camouflage like RealTree and Mossy Oak or the new high-tech digital patterns like Gore's Optifade. What matters is that it blends with your surroundings and breaks up your outline. It's the hard lines of your unnatural silhouette that gives away your movements. Blur those lines, move slow and at the right time while controlling your scent and you're as good as invisible in the woods. Good luck if you're just wearing something you pulled out of the closet or that dad passed down from the '60s. Get with it, and get some good cam.
No. 2: Controlling Your Scent
Whether or not you believe in and use activated-carbon clothing, scent control by way of washing your body and attire in scent-killing detergents helps to reduce your odor footprint in the deer woods, regardless. What odor remains via breath, skin and hair microbes can be masked with cover scents like fox urine, skunk and pine or overwhelmed by attractor scents like doe estrus or rutting buck urine. The bottom line is this is one basic that you can't afford to screw up.