Jason Patterson | Mossy Oak ProStaff Regional Manager
I would like to focus on the 3 key elements that I believe to be the most important things when it comes to hunting. While doing seminars for Mossy Oak at various outdoor events around the mid-south, the question I get the most is, “What can I do to improve my odds and be more successful out in the field?” This is a very simple answer that surprises most folks when I reveal the answer. Now when I do seminars, this is the primary subject that I focus on.
Growing up hunting and fishing for over 30 years, you learn a lot of different tactics, ideas and gimmicks. You name it, and it has been tried. I hunt pretty much everything and fish bass tournaments in the summer. These three keys can also somewhat apply to your fishing as well. Of course, if you hunt and fish, you have acquired a general knowledge of how to get started, but most people get caught up in all the new ways of doing things nowadays. This goes back to basic fundamentals, the foundation so to speak.
Let’s look at three things that you can do to guarantee more success in the outdoors. You can apply this to any species; it works across the board. You will be surprised of how overlooked it is though.
Whatever game or fish you pursue, this by far will improve your chances. Scouting is one of the most under-utilized tactics in the outdoors. You would be surprised at how many people just show up to hunt or fish and expect to fill their tags. Yes it can happen, if you’re lucky. I try not to bring luck into the equation. Most of us can only enjoy the outdoors on the weekends, so it’s even more important for us to try to scout. The old saying goes, be where your quarry wants to be and they all have their favorite areas and tendencies. For us waterfowl guys, its being on the X, but it applies to all game.
For instance, Turkey season is upon us, I love the sport, it is truly hunter against their quarry. When I started turkey hunting, I would go to the woods, sound off a gobbler and then set up in the closest field. To my dismay, many days went by without me filling my tag. I consider turkeys one of the hardest birds to nail down. Why did that happen you ask? Well, they weren’t using that field and never were. If I would have scouted, I would have not wasted all that time. Since those days, I start scouting at least a month before the season, finding roost areas, feeding areas, using game cameras and so forth to try to pinpoint areas.
The animals we pursue all leave behind sign to help us. It is up to us to go try to find it, and it makes your job a whole lot easier. The hunters that tag the biggest bucks, waterfowl, and long beards every year have done their homework. It’s right there for us to find, all we have to do is take the time to find it. If you have the rights to plant food plots or provide supplemental feeding in your areas, that is even better.
Here is another key factor to being hidden and being successful. I can usually get a stir out of any audience when I preach on this. Of course all hunters wear camo, but are you wearing the right camo for your area? Being with Mossy Oak, we are blessed with any pattern for any situation. I will reference waterfowl hunters on this one for the most part, because they make the mistake the most.
Here is common sense part two: if an animal can’t see you, you will increase your odds for success. I have every camo Mossy Oak makes and I use every camo. What it boils down to is to match your surroundings. Sounds simple but people do not do it. They buy the newest camo and wear it from head to toe, no matter what they hunt or where they hunt. As a waterfowl hunter, I hunt hardwood bottoms and corn fields for the most part. A different camo applies for each one.
Bottomland is my woods choice and Shadow Grass Blades is my field choice. Yes it sounds like a simple philosophy, but it really isn’t to most people. They buy one popular camo and wear it in all situations. I mix and match camo all the time, especially in the turkey woods. Know the area you are hunting and match to it the best you can. This isn’t a beauty pageant; the only one who cares how you look is the quarry you are after and hopefully it doesn’t see you before it’s too late.
Camo yourself properly from head to toe and the area around you; it does make a huge difference. Purchase a variety of camo to suit the needs of the areas you hunt. I love wearing camo most all the time, usually every day, but my main goal with the camo is to outsmart my prey. Pay a little attention to what you put on the next time you go into the woods, and I promise you it will pay off.
I know what you are thinking. Patience? Patience can be split into many areas like determination, scouting, skill, legwork, calling tactics, etc. Patience has caught more fish, tagged more trophy bucks, fooled more long beards and filled more waterfowl limits than any one tactic out there. You always hear the old timers tell you, “have more patience.”
In today’s high paced world, patience has been pushed to the side. Everything has to be done now and you have to get that prized wall hanger now before your buddies do. When it comes down to it, the one who gets the satisfaction of taking a trophy animal is you and you only. An example of this is when I fish bass tournaments. The mental side of our sport and all sports is not letting someone else control what you do. It’s one of the hardest things to control. Bass fishing in these tournaments that I attend, the first thing you hear during dock talk is, “Mr. Such-and-such caught a sack full yesterday, and Mr. Pro Angler is fishing this event and he caught them on this bait.”
Well here is a news flash. You are not fishing against that guy; you are competing against a green fish. He has no control over the fish you catch. If you do your proper scouting and find the fish and what they want to eat, you can be successful. Everyone always wants to know how that same angler wins or places high in events. Well, for the most part, he fishes more than you and scouts more. Time on the water and in the woods will improve your odds.
I know guys that hunt a certain whitetail deer for years before they get their opportunity to close the deal, and some still don’t get that chance. Yes, that guy will take years of being ribbed for not harvesting an animal, but when he does, he will get the satisfaction of working for it. Again, this is the mental side of things. Patience is all mental. Stay that extra hour and see what happens. Many long beards have survived because a hunter gives up after two hours after being in the woods. Just because a turkey stops gobbling doesn’t mean he didn’t hear you and is on the move. I have hunted one turkey for hours on end and got frustrated and left, only to find out by my game camera that he showed up 15 minutes after I left.
Spend a little extra time on these three details and it will improve your odds. You have to crawl before you walk. Basic fundamentals is the foundation of your success.