A good friend of mine once said, “I wish there were 28 hours in the day.” He said that he would rather have extra hours over more money any day. At the time, I was a young kid and didn’t quite understand what he meant. If time was a currency, I would have been rich as a youngster. I could go scouting/hunting whenever I wanted back then. Since that simpler time in my life, things have changed for the better. Last June, my wife and I had our first child. While being a Dad is the best job on the planet, I’m no longer bathing in the riches of time that I once had. No longer can I do whatever I want whenever I want. The days are now fuller and hunting season comes (and goes) much quicker.
While I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter, I’ve gained a new perspective about pre-season prep on limited time over the past year. Here are some tips that have helped me make the most of every spare minute leading up to opening day...
Find Time. Make Time.
So, there may not be 28 hours in the day, but there are certainly 24. In the past year, I’ve discovered how important utilizing every one of those hours is — especially for things like training workouts, shooting my bow, and e-scouting. I call it “finding hours.” I realized that I had a whole lot of potential hours to get stuff done before the sun came up. So, I started rising much earlier than the sun. I can get a workout in, shoot my bow, and even get a head-start on work before our daughter gets up at around 7 a.m. With my training, shooting, and other hunt-prep completed early, I’ve got the rest of the day to focus on work and family obligations.
I know that may sound extreme, but the whole idea is to make time where you can truly use that time without the burden or distraction of other obligations. Where there is a will there is a way. My way is mornings. Yours could be nights.
You should also be aware of, and make the most of, those little spurts of free time we get throughout the day. They may only be 15 minutes, but they can be productive. Instead of mindlessly scrolling Instagram or watching YouTube, take that 15 minutes and use it to organize your gear list or shop for the food you need for your hunt. Be willing to break the comforts of your normal routine, eliminate time-wasters, and you will discover ways to make the most of your day.
Plan Your Plan. Schedule The Steps.
Every one of us seems to get busier and busier with each turn of the calendar. From work and parenting to normal day-to-day tasks, like cooking and cleaning, things revolving around hunting preparation often take the back seat. I remember a day when all I had to worry about was shooting my bow and working out. Now, I honestly sometimes forget — unless I make a plan and set a schedule.
I’ve always been someone that does well with scheduling things out. It doesn’t matter if it’s to mow the lawn or e-scout a hunting unit on my phone. Putting something on the schedule holds me accountable and creates reminders so that I don't forget my to-do's. A shared schedule also helps me communicate with my wife when I’m heading to the archery range, going scouting, etc. Communicating with her about these things means more than ever now that we’re raising a child. These days, each step of my hunting prep isn't something that just happens — instead, it is something I plan for, schedule for, and pro-actively make a priority.
As you think of things that need to happen before your next hunt, jot those down into a plan, then with the plan in place, create time in your schedule to be sure those things get the time they need.
Eliminate Distraction. Find Efficiency.
The amount of stimulation and distraction that surrounds us is mind-blowing. Whether it’s our cell phones, tablets, TV, or computer, distractions are indeed at an all-time high. Too often, a simple glance at a notification from social media turns into a 15-minute scrolling and double-tap fest. Now, that 15 minutes I had set aside to e-scout was just taken up by social media instead. When I need to stay focused on my tasks, I put my phone in "do not disturb" mode and/or put it in another room. Out of sight, and out of reach, means it is out of mind.
Small shifts and delays in your schedule can also make a big difference — for better or worse. For instance, if I’m set to work out at 5 a.m., but don’t start until 5:30, then that means I’m going to be done 30 minutes late. That half-hour of time is a lost opportunity for hunting prep, and also taken away from being with my family, doing household chores, or work. If I waste a half-hour a day, I’m losing 3.5 hours a week. That morning of scouting just went bye-bye, because now I’m behind on everything else.
When I make the most efficient use of my time — for family, work, and hunting — all of those things are at their best. If I am not diligent with my time and then selfishly take that scouting trip at the end of the week, it would throw an unnecessary wrench into family life. By investing my time wisely, I can truly love my loved ones and also have time for hunting.
Make A Choice. Make It Happen.
Lastly, and most importantly, find a way to make it happen. Excuses are everywhere. They're easily found. But if you truly want something, you will fight past the excuses. It’s easy to disregard something like working out or shooting your bow and put it off until tomorrow. If one isn’t careful with that, tomorrow will soon be the day they’re leaving for hunting camp — prepared or not.
The preparation made leading up to opening day adds a level of enjoyment and effectiveness to the hunt itself. Being in shape, knowing where to look for animals, and having confidence in your shooting ability all play a role in how your hunt goes. The time spent in preparation before the hunt also helps us be efficient while on the hunt. Let’s not forget that we’re leaving loved ones back at home. I feel like I owe it to my wife and daughter to be as prepared as I can be for these hunts. After all, I am sacrificing time with them to be in the mountains.
Josh Kirchner is the author of the book, Becoming a Backpack Hunter, as well as the voice behind Dialed in Hunter, a blog that not only documents his own journey, but provides gear reviews, tips/tactics for western hunting, and encourages other hunters to chase and achieve their goals. Josh is a passionate bowhunter that has been hunting with his family since he was a small boy. When he is not chasing elk, deer, bear, and javelina through the diverse Arizona terrain, he is spending time with his wife, daughter, and two herding dogs.