Practice Makes Perfect

As the 2012 hunting season started to develop and tags started to arrive in the mail, I knew the upcoming season was going to be one for the books. As most of us can attest to, pressure from work and family obligations seem to add to the amount of time you realize you don’t have for that one thing in life that makes you wake up in the morning. Pre hunting season always seems to drag until the day of arrival. Then its 100 miles an hour for several months only to leave you at the end with your tongue hanging out and a smile on your face with the urge to do it all over again. Given that most western states require you to apply for tags for multiple years, acquiring bonus or preference points it’s pretty difficult to definitively determine which year is the year you’ll draw that once in a lifetime tag. With so many variables and uncontrollable factors involved in the world of hunting, I’ve found that to be successful year after year you need to control or at least have an influence on as much as you possibly can. Dave Beronio wrote about the importance of keeping your gear finely tuned for that split second opportunity that you’ve worked hard to put yourself into position, and I totally agree. You also need to have the utmost confidence in yourself and your gear that it will not fail in the moment of truth. But first you have to get there and back.
With only a limited amount of time available before the hunting season was in full swing, I was able to carve out two days to go on a bonsai back pack hunt in the high country of California for mule deer. I knew that with the limited amount of time that I was going to have to pull out all the stops to make this hunt a success. Throughout the preseason, I try to keep myself in as good of shape as I would my equipment, working out and hiking daily with a heavy pack in terrain simulating the strains of back pack style hunting.  This hunt was going to be the first of the year challenging my efforts. 
After hiking into a remote location several miles from the truck at an elevation over 10,000 feet, I had camp set up and was in prime deer country. The first day was a bust, only locating one legal buck and several does. The following morning, with only one day remaining before work obligations pulled me off the mountain, I decided I needed to go further into the back country to locate that high country muley. On the last day, I located two bucks that had stood to stretch and feed during the late afternoon sun. I waited until the bucks put themselves back to bed then came with a game plan that I felt would put me within bow range. As it most often does, when I was settled and in position a mere 40 yards from the bedded buck the wind swirled causing the bucks to jump from their beds and bolt 20 yards, but as luck would have it they both stopped broadside at 60 yards giving me that split second I needed to make it happen. After months of practice, muscle memory kicked in and the arrow was on its way.

A short time later, I laid my hands on those velvet antlers with a total and complete sense of accomplishment. When it was all said and done, I arrived back at the trailhead 16 miles later just after midnight and exhausted. This hunt is an example of being prepared at all times with your gear and with your physical and mental conditioning. Without these components working together this hunt would not have ended the same.

To see this exciting hunt go to

Team Outback Outdoors – Chris Callinan

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