March 12, 2014 – Calvin Halladay (Guest Blogger)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 90% of the animals taken by hunters are taken by the same 10% of hunters year after year. Why is that and how can you be one of the 10%? We all know that guy or group that seemingly have success every season while the majority return home with stories of “the golden years.”
Don’t get me wrong, I do not claim to be an expert by any means. I’m just a young hunter that has been able to find consistent success in multiple areas within this great state. I contribute this to some of the best mentorship any young hunter could ask for and a mindset that nobody is ever going to outwork me. I eat, sleep and breathe hunting of all types and for the most part have discovered all of the following tips through a combination of sweat and boot leather. So what is it that these 10% are doing that you are not? Here are my top six tips for all Oregon big game hunters to become more successful in the field.
UNDERSTAND OREGON’S OPPORTUNITIES AND APPLICATION PROCESS
It amazes me every year when I hear Oregon hunters discuss their draw odds, preference points and hunt applications. There are some major misunderstandings in regards to the application process which really warrants its own article entirely. I recommend you obtain all of your information in regards to this subject from a reliable source, perhaps Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife themselves or a fellow Oregon resident that really knows what they are talking about. Remember, all successful hunts begin as an opportunity. If you are not maximizing your opportunity intelligently you are hindering your success on the mountain before you even lace up your boots.
Before I move on I want to make sure you subscribe to the OOC blog. An upcoming article will address in-dept the Oregon preference point system. You don’t want to miss out on this — enter your email address in the upper right hand. Now moving on to tip number two.
COMPETENCE WITH YOUR WEAPON SYSTEM
This is another topic hear about every year, and I’m sure you cannot begin to count the amount of stories you hear every year about misses or non-fatal shots. So as a fellow Oregon hunter I am going to put it like this: Your weapon system will almost always outshoot your shooting abilities. It is very rare even in my military experience that I have witnessed a shooter outshoot their weapon. That being said, it is our duty as hunters to bridge the gap between our weapon’s capability and our own abilities as a shooter. The more competent (notice I did not say confident) you are with your weapon of choice at an array of ranges in different situations and scenarios the more successful you’re going to be as a hunter.
Before you even say it, yes you are correct. Killing an elk year after year does not require you to be able to run up a mountain or jump over fallen windfalls for half a mile straight…..or does it? Are you willing to take that chance? My point here is one of preparedness. You could step out of your pickup and shoot the trophy buck of your life, or you could see him feeding across an open canyon on the last evening of the season. You know if you could just get to those rocks you would have a shot at that trophy of a lifetime. You’ve got one hour until dark, you know it is one hour down to the bottom and 30 minutes up to those rocks if you’re hiking so we’ve got to get moving!
The hunter who didn’t spend the year preparing for this movement is going to TALK about this buck for the rest of his life, but if you suffer now throughout the year you’re going to pack him out on your back that night. Do you want to talk about or look up at him on the wall for the rest of your life?
INSANITY AS DEFINED BY EINSTEIN
The great Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I see hunters fall into their own “rut” year after year. Always hunting the same trail, the same canyon, glassing from the same spot, and always moving at the same speed. Animals are going to do what they want to do and when they want to do it, no rhyme or reason behind it. We can only study and remember their tendencies and habits, but I challenge you to not develop habits. Have you ever brought a buddy to a spot you look from only to have him find a horn on the ground that you’ve walked by 100 times? Or have him spot a bull out from under you only to respond with “I’ve never seen an elk there!” It’s because we develop habitual tendencies both consciously and unconsciously. It’s in where we walk, how we walk, where we look, and how long we look for. I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and change things up, expand your core hunting area by even one more mile every year and consistently change your glassing angles. To specialize in not specializing is going to make you a more dangerous predator on the mountain.
QUIT WHINING AND DROP THE EXCUSES
I’ve touched on this a bit throughout the entire article but I want to solidify a few things and hopefully change the way you think. Do we have a predation problem in Oregon? Absolutely, we most certainly do and something needs to be done about it! It’s no secret to even the most ill-informed Oregon hunter. It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed. How is it going to affect you in the woods? To a certain extent it’s going to affect you as much as you let it! That tag in your pocket says one elk, one sheep, or one deer. You are out there looking for one! Stop allowing issues you cannot directly control affect your head and defeat you. It’s important you stay strong and don’t give up. It’s nothing more than a cop out for your weak mental toughness. Keep your head in the right place, drive on, drink water and rub some dirt in it. I’ve seen people mentally break one hour into a once in a lifetime hunt only to pack their pickup up and drive home, and I’ve seen others gut it out to the final moments of shooting light on the very last day when a miraculous opportunity finally presented itself. Your victory is right over that next hill-don’t quit now.
SET GOALS AND STICK TO THEM
I consistently hear people telling me I shouldn’t base the “success” of my hunt off the killing of an animal. They tell me that is not what a successful hunt is about. When it boils down to it, I do not base success purely upon killing an animal but I place it upon achieving my goals. I set big goals because if I never have them to reach for, what am I really doing to better myself as a hunter? Set goals for yourself and don’t let a day go by that you don’t think of them and do something in order to take one step closer to achieving them. There is no “off-season”; every day is an opportunity and blessings to become better than we were yesterday, don’t ever forget that.
Best of luck to everyone this year – I wish everybody the best!
P.S. Did you know the Oregon Outdoor Council is the ONLY organization that’s working to hold legislators accountable for their anti-sportsmen actions in Oregon? They’re the ONLY organization informing you what companies are supporting anti-sportsmen groups in Oregon! A membership is only $25, if YOU want hunting opportunity and overall success to improve for your kids and grand kids you need to join!