When you’re learning to bowhunt, you will benefit leaps and bounds from hunting with an experienced partner. Even if you’re an experienced bowhunter, spending time with someone in the field is always an opportunity to learn new tactics.
But hunting with a partner for the first time is kind of like dating; if you blow it on the first date you won’t get a second chance. Don’t screw up your chances of finding a good hunting partner. Here’s how to make a good first impression and get asked back.
The No. 1 rule of bowhunting? Always be safe. Before heading into the field, review the basic safety rules you learned when you took your bowhunter safety course. Even if you’re an experienced bowhunter, it never hurts to refresh your memory every season.
Safety rules to remember:
- Carry broadheads in a sturdy quiver.
- Know your target and what’s beyond.
- Don’t drink or do drugs while hunting.
- Know your physical and shooting limitations.
- Always point your arrow in a safe direction.
You owe it to yourself and your hunting partner to always follow these rules. Engaging in risky behavior is a surefire way to never be invited hunting again. Demonstrating your safety-conscious attitude is the first step in establishing a trusting relationship.
Respect the Land
What would happen if a first date invited you to their favorite restaurant and you left a mess, complained about the food, and were rude to the staff? That first date would also be the last date.
It doesn’t matter where you are hunting or with whom you are hunting, always be a good steward of the land. Respecting the land means following the principle of “leave no trace.” Pack out anything you bring in,like toilet paper and food wrappers. If you’re hunting on private land or block management, respect the rules of the landowner. Close any gates you open, and don’t interfere with any domestic animals you encounter, including cattle or sheep.
Have you ever been on a first date with a nonstop talker? This is a nightmare scenario if you’re in the woods. Talking will scare off your hunting partner, along with any potential quarry. Hunting with an experienced bowhunter is an opportunity to learn. Watch how your partner checks the wind, moves through the woods and slowly looks for animal sign. If you need to ask a question or say something, do so in a quiet tone when there isn’t any wildlife around. Be quiet in everything you do. Avoid stepping on sticks and crunchy leaves, and unzip your backpack as silently as possible.
The most exciting part about a first date is learning about your partner. While there are obvious times to be quiet while bowhunting, there will be opportunities to ask questions and learn from a new hunting companion. Experienced hunters enjoy sharing their knowledge. Be engaged throughout the day and when the hunt is over, ask questions about things you may not have understood or want to know more about. As you learn more, you will improve and become an even better hunter and partner for the future.
Don’t be Tardy
If you were super excited for a date, you wouldn’t show up an hour late. And if you did, your date wouldn’t be there waiting. Wildlife won’t wait either. Bowhunting will probably require you to set some very early alarms. If you agree to meet at a certain time, be punctual. Tardiness is disrespectful and can ruin the hunt for everyone.
To make it easier to arrive on time, have everything packed and ready to go the night before, including your clothes, gear and food. If for some reason you are running late, contact your hunting partner so they can decide to wait or go ahead without you.
Pass the Nose Test
Before a date, you might splash on a little perfume or cologne. If you do this before a hunt you will certainly make an impression on your partner – a very bad one. Bowhunting requires you to get extremely close to take a shot, and most wildlife have an amazing sense of smell. Avoid strong-smelling products. Your local archery shop will carry an array of scent management products that can help keep your scent concealed.
Dress to Unimpress
Wearing the right clothing will keep you camouflaged and comfortable. There are several types of camouflage patterns that help you blend in with different settings. If you don’t have head-to-toe camo, wear natural tones like brown, gray and green. Also, make sure the clothing you wear is made of a quiet fabric.
Check the weather forecast and prepare for the conditions. Dressing in layers will keep you warm during cold mornings and help you cool down during hot afternoons. It’s always a good idea to pack gloves, a beanie and rain gear. You don’t want to be the hunter forced to leave the field early because you came unprepared.
If you’re a punctual, prepared and polite hunter, you will make a good impression. With some manners and a little bit of chemistry, maybe you’ll find your next hunting partner.