Five ways to stay sharp and expedite your hunting learning curve
Evolving as a hunter is a process that requires resourcefulness and a penchant for enrichment. We routinely fork out money for tags, logistics and gear—so why not protect your investment through continued education? Here is a bevy of options!
This may be deemed an antiquated form of digesting information, but some people actually prefer the tangible pleasure of books. There is a plethora of knowledge waiting to be tapped into already available on library and used bookstore shelves that can be as pertinent today in the woods as the day it was written. If you’d rather seek information online, then articles such as this should suffice to give you “at a glance” information with full transparency. Another alternative is internet forums—with the caution that you need to use proper judgment when reading what is posted with regard to the questions posed or topics like hunt units. Being able to navigate between the potential resentful misdirection and bombardment of righteous discouragement and to mentally filter until you either are corresponding privately with a member or have archived enough knowledge to add to your repertoire is a skill in itself. If you really want a deep dive down the rabbit hole then I’d highly recommend perusing scholarly articles and journals, which can be found on Google Scholar. Peer-reviewed experts in their field publish a lot of wisdom in these accessible papers that range from ungulate migrations to ecological studies to environmental impacts and shifts. You can start to see patterns and preferences in habitat and animal behaviors over long periods of time. It should go without saying, but GOHUNT's yearly Application Strategy articles are another wealth of information when looking at trends in data.
Podcasts are a great way to absorb information while getting things done. Whether you are on the road traveling or getting in a good sweat during a cardio or lift session, listening to content can inspire and direct curiosities in an engaging format. By utilizing most podcast app search functions (usually a magnifying glass icon), you can filter your search to fit the parameters of your interests and inquiry. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the local fish and wildlife office and ask to speak to the biologist in charge of the animal you are after. It helps if you have done diligent research and scouting on your own and your first question isn’t, “Where do I go to kill a 170+ class buck?” It’s guaranteed that they have had that question posed to them multiple times a day leading up to a season and are much more inclined to clarify things if your bases are covered and your questions are specific and direct.
Attend a summit or seminar
There are many of these event gatherings popping up annually, such as the Western Hunting Summit put on by Doc Hillary and her husband Ryan “Sthealthy Hunter” Lampers, as well as the Bear Camp Masterclass by PEAX. If you can’t attend in person, there are also many great online alternatives like Mark Livesay’s “Treeline Academy” and his course on OutdoorClass called "Next Level E-Scouting." Both of these courses will turn you into an e-scouting wizard and equip you with priceless tips and tactics. The awesome thing about all these offerings is the camaraderie and family aspect of cohort learning and experience. It’s a beautiful thing to see all levels and all ages come together with the intent to share and grow and have hunting as the glue that binds.
Select your sphere
Surrounding yourself with individuals who elevate your skills and reciprocate your eagerness to get better is a pillar of success. If you feel supported and propped up, you may shed your fears and insecurities, which can lead you to breakthroughs of physical or mental thresholds. Iron sharpens iron. Be pushed by others, but compete with yourself.
Study your quarry
There is no replacement for boots on the ground and time in the field. Every time you are out is a chance to observe and recall. Pay attention to details—most of the time they matter. The more encounters with wildlife, the more the elusive “puzzle pieces” seem to stack up in your favor and you can create your own luck.
It’s cliché to say, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” As hunters, we can only control our effort and build upon our skillset. Continued education can help enhance and ensure a proper success trajectory. There are no shortcuts, so embrace creative solutions and earn it!