How to Get Ready for Hunting Camp in 2017
Five Simple Steps to Make Sure You’re Prepared for Hunting Camp
Do you have big plans for Hunting Camp in 2017?
With archery season underway, some of you are already out there tagging animals.
For the rest of us just getting our stuff out of the garage, or out blowing a bunch of money buying everything we need for our first trip, this is a good time to think about what we need to get in order for our trip to hunting camp this year.
Unfortunately, most of us can’t bag a nice bull in our backyard. So, for us, there are a few more things we need to plan out before our trip. In this Hunting Camp Preparation Guide we will discuss how you can make this year at hunting camp the best one yet with some simple pre-planning!
Hunting Camp Preparation Basics
Follow These 5 Hunting Camp Tips Before You Head Into the Woods
1) Review Current Washington Hunting & Camping Regulations
Knowing and understanding the regulations for the area where you’re going to be hunting is vitally important.
Knowing what dates and areas you can hunt different game based on the type of weapon you will be using is one of the first steps in the planning process. It’s important to understand that rules can change year to year. So, that favorite spot you’ve been using the last few years may have different rules in 2017.
Making a mistake can be very costly. You do not want to end up dealing with a Game Warden because you were hunting on the wrong side of a road. Different seasons have different rules for wearing blaze orange, and Washington’s rules on blaze orange may be different then other states.
Dig Deeper > Here is a link to Washington State hunting regulations that you should brush up on before you head out to hunting camp in 2017: http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/
2) Educate Yourself on Washington Hunting Basics
If you’re a ten year veteran of hunting camp then you probably have got this whole thing figured out.
But, if you are just starting out, there are a few things you can do to get educated on the ins-and-outs of hunting.
In Washington, there is the requirement to take the Hunter Education Course. That, by itself, doesn’t normally leave you with the full scope of knowledge that you will need at hunting camp. There are a few ways you can get there though. Personally, I learned by going out with an experienced group. I tried to ask questions without being a nag, but, generally, most hunters that are willing to have you out with the group are willing to share their experience and knowledge.
Using a guide is another option. This is a good option for novice hunters, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area of your hunting camp and you are going with other inexperienced hunters. You and your group may consider getting a Washington State hunting guide to help you manage your experience and to educate your group for the next trip.
Dig Deeper > The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also offers clinics and provides booklets that cover the basics of the different hunting opportunities in the state. You can find more information on those resources here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/huntered/
3) Scout Out the Area Around Your Hunting Camp
The best way to get comfortable with something is to get out there and do it.
It is going to be extremely beneficial to get out and see the area around your hunting camp that you plan to hunt.
Get some topographical maps and review the terrain and the possible routes you could use for packing out, or if you get lost. If you aren’t that rehearsed in using maps, ask someone for help, or watch some videos. One of the most uncomfortable feelings in life is being lost in the woods, so get out there and get yourself familiar with the area around your hunting camp before you find yourself in bad weather conditions.
Remember to take your GPS with you. This will allow you to get familiar with how it works and to mark spots that you want to go back to during your hunting trip.
This will also be a good time to measure your fitness. If you’re struggling on your scouting trip, you’ll be struggling on your hunting trip. Go for some walks with your pack on and hit some hills to get yourself physically ready before you leave for hunting camp this year.
Dig Deeper > You can use this tool from the USGS to find maps of your hunting camp areas: https://store.usgs.gov/map-locator
4) Prepare Your Hunting Camp Equipment
Break out that rifle, muzzle loader, or bow and hit the practice range.
Even if your sight is dead-on year after year, you still should make sure that all of your equipment is functioning properly (including you).
Go out and use your GPS! Sitting in the house and flipping through the different pages in the manual and playing with the functions isn’t the same as going out and putting those functions to use. Use your scouting trip as an opportunity to get comfortable with your GPS.
Make sure that anything powered by batteries hasn’t been corroding, that the lenses on your binoculars didn’t get cracked when your kid was playing with them while you were at work, and that mice haven’t been sleeping in your sleeping bag all summer.
You don’t want to pack up, drive 5 hours, set up your hunting camp, and be ready to go hunting in the morning only to find out something you’d like to have, or something that you desperately need, is broken or not functional.
5) Pack the Things You Need (and the Things You Might Need)
You should take the time to make two packing lists.
One for everything you need to take for hunting camp, and one for what needs to be in your pack during the day.
You can review packing lists that other people have created to give you a starting point, but everyone has their own necessities.
Beyond what I need for hunting, I like to prepare my pack as if I’m doing an overnight hike. There’s no telling what might happen out there. Being prepared for the possibility of having to manage an overnight stay doesn’t mean you need to pack a tent and a sleeping bag (managing the weight and size of your pack is also very important), but I like to have something with me that will allow me to manage through the night if I need to.
The basics you should have (beyond your hunting equipment) are;
- Rain/Cold Weather Gear
- Fire Starter
- First Aid Kit
If you have something that usually acts up on you, be prepared for it to happen while you’re out in the wild. For me, it’s my ankles. I always seem to tweak them. So, I carry an ankle brace and Tylenol in my pack.
If you have medication that you take regularly, keep a spare dose with you in case you leave your bottle in the truck.
Dig Deeper > Check out this list from the Washington Trails Association that outlines some common hunting camp items that you will need: http://www.wta.org/go-outside/basics/backpacking/backpacking-101-planning-your-trip
BONUS TIP: Planning Your Hunting Camp Meals Ahead of Time
Another important part of packing is your meals.
It is important to remember that you are going to burning a lot more calories than you do normally. The meals you bring should have the fuel you need and they should be easy to prepare.
- Breakfast meals should be easy to manage since no one will want to wake up an hour early to cook.
- Lunch should be something that wont go bad or get soggy if it sits in your pack for several hours.
- Dinner can be a little more work, but generally when I get in for the day I don’t want to wait too long, or work too hard, to put a meal together.
Take the time to get things in order and know what your plan is.
The better prepared you are for hunting camp, the more comfortable you will be out there, and, ultimately, the more fun you’ll have. Take pictures, bring a flask for AFTER you get your animal (never drink and hunt), and have fun.
Be safe our there and good luck!
Hunting Camp Preparation Article Written by Benjamin Sockle
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