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As a guide and outfitter, I get to hunt with a wide variety of hunters throughout the year. Some of them are first timers and some of them are much more experienced than me. I try to learn something from each and everyone of them that can either help me or help me help someone else. Over time I’ver noticed a few things that a lot of guys struggle with. Most hunters that aren’t successful, have one, two, or all of these things in common. This article is in no way a complaint, a badmouthing of any specific person, or griping on my part. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing guides bash hunters on social media because they’re not as strong, fast, in shape, or as good of a hunter as said guide. Well duh.. why do you think they hired you?? This article is purely for the hunters benefit so that you might learn something that is commonly struggled with and master it before going on your next hunt!
The number one reason, no questions asked, that I have animals get away, is because a hunter is not able to get them in the cross hairs. This happens for several different reasons. Either they’re not familiar with the gun/scope, they’ve got the power cranked all the way up, or they’ve only shot at the range and never practiced finding a moving target, many times in dense cover. A good way to practice this is to get .22 or some other small caliber thats cheap and comfortable to shoot, and shoot as many rounds as you can get your hands on. Shoot at cans and try to bounce them around, shoot at any kind of moving targets you can find, practice bringing the gun to your shoulder and acquiring your target as fast as possible. If you have a safe place to do it, go to the woods and pick out stumps, or other targets in thick cover and practice getting on them. The more familiar you can get with a rifle in your hands and the more rounds you fire, the better off your gonna be.
The next reason several animals lived to see another year, is because the hunter was in poor physical shape. Once again, not bashing on anyone, and if you paid for the hunt you can come in whatever shape you want and I’ll work my best to get you an animal, but if you have the time and ability to train a little before you come, your only increasing your odds for success and your hunt is going to be much more enjoyable. I had several big mule deer get away this year because guys just couldn’t get to the top of the hill in time. Ive also seen several guys shoot a smaller animal than they intended on because they were physically exhausted and didn’t want to/couldn’t hunt any longer. For most hunts, you don’t have to be in pro athlete shape, but a few days a week hiking with your pack or spending an hour on the elliptical will do wonders.
The next one, I don’t see very often but when I do, it makes things really tough. Any given hunter that comes to hunt with me may be a better hunter than me.. I’m man enough to admit that. BUT, you obviously respected my knowledge and skills enough to hire me, so give me a chance to prove myself to you before you start telling me how to do my job. Always trust your guide until he gives you a reason not to. You may not always understand why they do a certain thing, but chances are they know some detail about the landscape, terrain, animal movement, patterns, etc. that you may not know about the animals in that particular area. Now, on the flip side of that, I love feedback from hunters and I’ve learned so much from guys I’ve guided, and I have no problem with someone saying “hey, have you thought abut this,” or “what if we go up this side of the hill.” What I have a problem with is a guy constantly questioning me or just flat out refusing to follow my lead.
These are definitely the top 3 things that I see cause hunters not to get their trophies and I hope that this article might help someone on their next hunt. I can’t stress enough that this was not written to be directed at any particular person, and I’m not bashing on anyone. I just hate seeing people make the same mistakes. If you have any questions on preparing for your next hunt or need gear recommendations, feel free to contact me anytime! I love talking gear and hunting!!