For many hunters, getting ready to go on a western elk hunt is a big undertaking. There are many things to think about in advance of a hunt. Some of these items need to begin months in advance. And that means getting started now!
In order to keep it simple, I believe that preparation can be boiled down to three simple things. These are my 3 tips to prepare for a western elk hunt:
If you haven’t already begun practicing with your weapon, don’t wait any longer! Get out there and start now. Ideally, you should be shooting your weapon year-round to be ready for a western hunt. Whether you will be hunting with a bow, a rifle or a muzzleloader, proficiency with your weapon is incredibly important to your success on the hunt.
As a guide, I’ve seen far too many hunters show up for a hunt totally unprepared to use their weapon in the field. In the worst cases, I’ve seen hunters show up with a new weapon, fresh out of the box. Not as extreme, but still disturbing, is when a hunter tells me they only fired their weapon a few times at the range just before the hunt.
If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success on your hunt, you must put in some time practicing with your weapon. And don’t just shoot from a bench rest or from fixed distances at a block target. Put yourself in more realistic situations.
Start by putting on your hunting clothes, including your backpack and gloves. Then, do jumping jacks or even run sprints between shots. I also recommend that you practice shooting from sitting, kneeling and prone positions. If you plan to use a bipod or shooting sticks, it’s imperative that you practice extensively with those items.
When it comes to getting ready for your hunt, this point cannot be overemphasized.
Conditioning should be another year-round activity for all hunters. However, it’s never too late to get started, so kick yourself into gear now! And remember, getting your body in shape isn’t just about exercise. It should include healthy eating too.
Start by setting goals for yourself that are realistic and achievable. Get accountability by working out with a buddy, or even working with a trainer. Getting in shape is much easier when you’re doing it with someone else.
When it comes to eating, take it seriously. Remember that you’re spending a lot of your valuable time and money on a guided elk hunt. You want to get the most out of it. If you need help deciding how to eat better, don’t hesitate to pick up a book or consult a nutritionist. Eating healthfully will allow you to get in shape faster. You will have more energy, feel better and ultimately have more fun on your hunt.
No amount of healthy eating will help if you don’t exercise. These two things go hand-in-hand. Again, if you’re not sure where to start, consult an expert. For motivation and accountability, you might consider joining a program like Crossfit. Whatever you do, do it with constancy and remember the goal you’re working towards!
In addition to your work in the gym, I recommend getting out and hiking in your hunting clothes, boots and backpack. Get used to moving in your gear and make sure that it’s comfortable before you’re out there on the mountain.
While shooting and conditioning should be the top priorities for improving your chances of success on a hunt, there is something to be said for being organized and having the right gear before your hunt.
If you’re embarking on a guided western elk hunt, it’s easy to over pack. I often see clients show up for the hunt with an extremely heavy backpack. By the second or third day of the hunt, they tend to shed those unnecessary items and their pack is where it should have been on the first day.
If you’re hunting with an outfitter, they should provide you with a list of suggested items. You might even ask them for a list of what their guides carry, so that you can avoid duplicating those items. Whatever you pack, stick to the list and avoid packing anything that’s not essential. The extra weight will wear you down during the course of a hunt.
When it comes to organizing gear, I’d recommend making a checklist. Start the list months in advance. As you think of things over the coming weeks, add them to the list. Compare lists with your friends or send it to your guide for review. When it’s time to pack for your big hunt, you will be able to carefully check items off, and be confident that you’re not forgetting something important.
With confidence in your weapon, confidence in your physical ability and an organized packing list, you are ready for that hunt of a lifetime!