By: Justin Hunold
Simply put, hunting season can become a grind. Between early mornings and late nights the whole thing can be a bit of a blur. There are times hunting season can feel as much like work as any day at your job. Yet, we wait all year for the whole thing. Let’s look at a few ways to stay fresh, stay positive, and most of all have fun during hunting season. How to avoid burning out during a long hunting season.
Scheduling for success– During the beginning of hunting season I try to creep my alarm to go off fifteen minutes earlier every week. By the time the clocks switch over in November I am already accustomed to getting up early and being ready to move. This might seem extreme but I tend to be an early riser anyway. Generally I am getting up around 6:00 am the whole year so, if I start in august and wake up 15 minutes earlier every week I am pretty well adjusted when 4:00 am becomes the norm. Waking up earlier has a welcomed side effect as well, I can get more things accomplished prior to the hunting season, when I tend to let things go a bit.
Fuel the Machine- I love coffee, I love gas station coffee, gourmet coffee, dripped coffee, french press coffee, pour over and even keurig. I need it. It helps my comfort level and staves off the dreaded headache. I also try to eat healthy for most of the year. I like simple, mostly whole foods, with a large dose of game meats. Dairy is my “mostly” healthy guilty pleasure if I actually have one.
During the season I make sure I have a plan for coffee before I go to bed. This is paramount, I carry Black Rifle Coffee Company instant coffee in my bag, just in case. If I am on a trip I make sure there is a good way to have a decent cup of coffee before I leave for the morning. A few different travel mugs go with me as well, if I don’t finish the java or need to bring it I’m good to go.
This is also the time of year I let myself have more treats because I know with the lack of sleep, the hard hunting, and the colder temps I will likely burn off all of those extra calories. I love PBJ’s, fruit snacks, granola bars, jerky and left over Halloween candy. A little sugar and carb burst is always welcome while I’m out working birds or sitting on stand.
For after the hunt I enjoy a good beer too. Everyone has their own view on what suits them for an evening, for me it’s a good IPA or Lager. I try to limit my intake of booze most nights, but if I am with good friends and family I will generally give myself one night to cut loose. There are plenty of great camp stories that come from those nights. I make sure I have some vitamin I (ibuprofen) and plenty of water at the ready so I can be good to go when that early morning comes around.
Tech Savvy– Let’s face it we all love our phones, so I keep spare chords and battery packs with me. I like to have the ability to communicate and map while I’m in the field. I also love having the ability to capture great photos and video. As a content producer taking the time to put the camera on my phone to use is important and necessary but I also just love having the memories for me and my folks. I sent a video to a friend the other day and he couldn’t have cared less about the deer but he was very interested in the terrain I was hunting in.
As a very involved father I love having the ability to Facetime my three year old son. So, I make sure I carve out some time to make those calls in the evening or at lunch time. It’s important to him and me.
Family Matters– Remember that Fall and Winter both have a bunch of family oriented holidays. From time to time you might miss part of a holiday for some reason, I try personally to work my hunting in on all the days that aren’t holidays. I know it can be a tradition for some, and I am on board for those folks, but I refuse to miss a Halloween costume or a holiday meal because I am in the field. I have hunted on holidays but normally it’s close to home and with a family member. Being present and available for those special days is what life is about. Those extra couple days in the woods or water might not make a real difference in your season but they will make a difference to your family. Prioritize
Do the Work– If you have a job that allows you to pick up some extra overtime or shifts before the season, that’s a great way to relieve some of the financial burden hunting can put on. I have a career that isn’t structured that way but I often cover for my co-workers throughout the year with the understanding that come fall they’ll return the favor. If you are more than pulling your weight the entire year it is easy to take some well earned time to yourself to do what you enjoy.
Spread the Love– Every year I start to hate the sight of my tree stand at some point. That’s when I take to the backwaters to chase waterfowl, underbrush for small game and the fields for upland birds. I love hunting in general, but I also love the variety of ways I can take to the field. Any change of pace will offset the incoming feeling of burn out.
These are some tricks I personally use to keep my head on straight. I love hunting and I love spending time outside, the second it starts to feel like work I employ some of these tactics to make sure I am keeping the JOY in the enJOY. Remember this stuff is supposed to be fun, and we work all year to get here. Now you do you and enjoy your time afield in whatever way suits you.