Hunting Season is Year Round

Posted by Kevin Estela on May 31st 2024

Hunting Season is Year Round

At the time of writing this, it has been almost 3 months since the official end of the rifle deer hunting season here in NC. For some, hunting season is “over” but for the avid folks out there, hunting is year-round. This concept is one Gerry Young and I taught at the hunter prep course back in September 2021 and we believe it to this day. Just because the time period you have to shoot a deer is over doesn’t mean you have to stop being a hunter. A true hunter prepares year-round and never gets out of the game. For this week’s blog, I wanted to share six of the ways you can ready yourself for the next time you’re allowed to take an animal legally.

Improve Physical Fitness

You may have heard some people say, “Summer bodies are made during the winter.” For those interested in beach muscles, there is absolute truth to this statement. For hunters, you should stay active or increase your activity during the offseason. This is your time to ruck march, deadlift, stretch and improve your mobility. It is easy to forget how much a good hunt can tax the body and you don’t want to wait a couple weeks before your preferred season starts to shed 10 or 15 pounds. Do it well before the season opens and invest in your overall fitness.

Examine Your Kit

If you’re like me, you have a good amount of hunting equipment. From headlamps to hunting knives to GPS units to rangefinders, you know your kit well and it gives you great pride to have exactly what you need to get the job done. It’s important to maintain that kit and this means touching up your knives and giving them a coat of protectant. It also means swapping out batteries and documenting or marking them to know when they should be taken out of service. While I’m not a fan of throwing hunting clothing into the normal wash, I will take a brush to it and remove any dried dirt or muck. No sense in giving your clothing additional scent with detergent.

Practice with Your Rifle

It happens every year, you see guys come out to the range with their deer rifle and the last time they shot their rifle was last year. They pull out a partially used box of ammo and confirm zero with 3 to 5 rounds. Aside from those 5 rounds annually, that rifle isn’t shotvery much. In your off-season time, you should practice rifle fundamentals with the kit you intend to use. This means using your rifle from standing, crouched, kneeling, seated, and prone. During the offseason, you should check the torque on your rifle scope ring screws and mark them with witness paint. You should also test out new ammunition for your rifle to see if there is a more accurate offering. Another idea is to chronograph your rifle and know what the true muzzle velocity is versus the advertised test numbers on the box.With this data, you can determine with a ballistic calculator how your rifle will perform at various distances. You have the entire offseason to learn your rifle and know it intimately. Don’t miss out on that opportunity. I’m currently getting familiarized with a Sako 90 Adventure and am enjoying every minute of the process.

Orient Yourself

Make sure you spend time where you hunt in the off-season scouting the areas you plan to hunt in the next open season. Learn what the terrain looks like in person andif you can, camp out in that area.Learn what the rhythm feels like and get an idea of where assets are. Bring your binos and hone your observation skills. The more you know ahead of time means the less you have to look at your map or navigation devices during the regular season. When you get boots on the ground, you see the land differently than you do on a map or even using Google Earth imagery. Paired with good programs like OnX, you can track where you see literal tracks in the ground and examples of animal signs.

Level Up Your Skills

It’s always the right time to learn complimentary skills for hunting. Learning knots will help you make sure you can secure your tent properly with guyed-out lines. Learning how to butcher and pack away your game means you’ll have the skills to safeguard your food in storage for months. Practicing with a map and compass will help you stay found and teach you to utilize natural backstops and handrails. Perhaps one of the most important skills to learn is the skill you never hope to use. That skill is med. When I taught Hunter Prep with Gerry Young back in 2021, he covered many possible and probable hunter med concerns such as falling on a broadhead, dealing with a head injury, mechanical injuries, and more. Your responsibility is to become more capable in the field. Will you?

Build a Hunting Party

Hunting doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, you will have more fun if you hunt with a strong party. Not only does the group environment mean more people to rib and more people to make the camp setting fun, more hands make light work when you have to haul out an animal. In the offseason, you need to assess the character of your potential hunting party members. A drink to celebrate a hunt is different from having too much to drink, preventing you from hunting. A person who can shoot well is different from a person who just wants to shoot. A “hunter” who brags about taking animals out of season is always a person who you deny hunting with. The list of red flags is endless and you have to be selective of who you invite in. Find people who push you to be better. Level up those who are willing to learn. Share your knowledge and learn from the knowledgeable.

You don’t have to wait for the open season to “hunt”.You’ve probably heard people say “Hunting is more than just killing the animal”. I will add “Hunting is more than just the season you do it in.” Just as hunters learn to enjoy the butchering aspect of hunting or the sharing of food more than the trigger work, you will learn to enjoy the year-round aspect of hunting beyond the season.