Let’s Go! Your preparation guide to Hunting in the West
Interest in western hunting has seen a steady increase in demand. Competition for licenses and openings with reputable hunting outfitters is at an all time high. After months of planning and in some cases years of gathering preference points, you have successfully drawn that coveted license. You beat the odds now it’s the final countdown. It’s time to check your gear, shoot your gun and get your legs and lungs in shape.
One of the very best things about a western hunt is having an excuse to buy new hunting gear. Look over the equipment list you received from the SNS office and make sure you have the gear listed. This is a tried and true list, refined over the years and is specific to your hunt.
Optics are extremely important and when it comes to binoculars that’s no place to cut corners. Change the batteries in your range finder and head lamps and pack extra batteries as a backup. If the camp you’re going to requires a sleeping bag, be sure and bring one or make arrangements to rent one. If you prefer to rent a bag, it must be arranged well in advance of the hunt.
Taking care of your feet is essential on a hunt. If you happened to purchase a new pair of hiking boots, be sure you get them broken in. A couple years ago one of our guides (Mike O’Leary) drew a big horn sheep tag. Because he hadn’t taken the time to break in his new pair of hiking boots, he packed his old, well broken in pair in his gear bag. The boots had been treated several times over the years with a good water sealant. Over time the sealant rotted the stitching which held the sole to the leather uppers. On the first day of his hunt, he lost the soles of both boots. Stalking his ram with no boot soles would have been catastrophic had Mike not been lucky enough to kill a great ram the first day of his hunt! When it comes to your hunting gear check every piece out well in advance and replace any suspect equipment, money well spent to do so.
A critical part of your hunt is when the moment arrives that the animal you have dreamed of hunting for years finally presents that shot. Any time spent at the shooting range will be time well spent. If you have splurged on a new rifle and scope for the hunt be sure you leave plenty of time to become familiar with it. Often we see hunters showing up with a brand new gun and scope and absolutely no idea how to use it. Make sure the rifle is in top shape and it never hurts to have a reputable gun smith give it a once over.
If you haven’t purchased your ammunition yet for your hunt, NOW is the time to get real serious about finding it. The ammo shortage is real and many experts expect it to continue for at least another 12 months maybe longer. If you wait before trying to round up ammo to practice with and bring on your hunt you may be in a predicament. Do not assume you will be able to find ammo here in Wyoming or Montana. We are in just as bad of shape for ammo availability. I can’t stress it enough, find your ammo now. Please do not delay!
Now that your gear is ready, your gun is tuned up and you found a half dozen boxes of shells, it’s time to work on the very most important piece of equipment; your body. Hunting out west will test your legs and lungs. Our elevation is almost always significantly higher than what you’re used to. Hills and uneven terrain will undoubtedly test your endurance. If you have a horseback hunt scheduled, leg strength is very important when it comes to mounting a horse. If you are booked on a horseback hunt with SNS, it will be worth your while to check out our Horseback Hunting 101 video. It will certainly help you with hunt preparation.
It’s essential to take the time out of your day and dedicate it to getting in hunting shape. Walk and hike 4-5 days a week, find hills to climb. If a stadium is close by, go climb stairs every week. If you prefer to hit the gym, by all means do so but its hard to beat getting outdoors and doing plenty of walking. It is often recommended by fitness experts to start your day with that workout so its accomplished before your day gets busy. These hunts aren’t “Superman” activities, but any exercise program you undertake now will be worth the time you put into.
We are getting excited for the upcoming fall hunting season and hope you are in preparation mode as well. The dates of your hunt will be upon us before you know it! Remember that luck is the result of preparation meeting opportunity.