Skip to main content

6 Hunting Basics You're Screwing Up

6 Hunting Basics You're Screwing Up

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.

Current Magazine Cover

Don't Miss

The Essentials Gear Box.

Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.

Learn More

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

Cedar Break Bucks

David Draper is with Dory Schoby talking about the benefits of using red dots for hunting and taking a look at the Aimpoint Micro H2.

Aimpoint Red Dots for Hunting

David Draper is with Nathan Robinson of Winchester talking about the 6.8 Western Cartridge. It offers impressive long-range accuracy, low recoil and staggering knockdown power when you need it for both long-range shooting and hunting.

Winchester 6.8 Western

Joe Ferronato is joined by Luke Thorkildsen from Weather by to check out the Backcountry 2.0, which builds on the classic steel Mark V action — with some key updates.

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0

Nosler has some exciting new products. Mason Payer of Nosler shows our own Joe Ferronato new suppressors, 21 Chassis Rifle and Trophy Grade Ammunition.

New from Nosler!

Shawn Skipper of Leupold explains their Custom Dial System to Petersen's Hunting's Joe Ferronato.

Leupold CDS

Kevin Steele gets a chance to test this impressive rifle at Roundtable 2022.

CZ 600 Range

Petersen's Hunting's Dale Evans is with CJ Johnson of Bushnell checking out their new Elite 4X.

Bushnell Elite 4500 4X Scope

Tim Herald shares tips on how to best use a ground blind.

Trijicon Tip: Ground Blinds

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now