Next Level As a Hunter

robby denning

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Staff member
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Feb 25, 2012
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10,848
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SE Idaho
It starts with a passion.......or more like an obsession like Ross and Robby laid out. I've always been an elk hunter.......probably since I could crawl.....and my dad wasn't even much of a hunter. Here I am at 4 years old with my two sisters, and I already knew what my lifetime of hunting would be about. View attachment 255646
I always wanted to bow hunt, but being LH with a very long draw........back then there just wasn't much help or information to help........or bows to fit me. So I rifle hunted for years. But the biggest thing that launched me to the "next level" was finally making that switch to a bow. It's been pretty insane ever since. And my wife thought I was obsessed before that. Chasing big screaming bulls with a bow is life-changing. I've shot a few other things along the way with a bow (this year shot a moose and a sheep), but I'm an elk hunter. When you eat, sleep, and dream bugling bulls 365 days a year, you can't help but be on that next level. Anything less is unacceptable.
great pic 5Miles. You even knew where to hit back then
 

Beendare

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Joined
May 6, 2014
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5,759
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In Traffic
For me, the simple answer is learning the species.

Game animals do everything for a reason....especially the older animals.

——-
 

Str8shooter

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
237
You can read, watch, listen to as many experts as you can and get the best gear and hunt the statistically best units but simple experience from time in the field is how to get to the next level. Failure is the best teacher. Smashing yourself into the mountain over and over and over and coming up short will teach you what doesnt work. The best hunters I know have been people who aren't put off by failure and keep coming back and will tweek everything until success starts to trickle in. No shortcuts here, no "game changers" except playing the game and time in the field. There are orders of magnitude more ways to fail than to be successful. Not finding animals, blowing stalks, gear inadequacies, not adapting to pressure, staying in areas that used to be good but arent or leaving great areas after a couple days prematurely are all learning opportunities that gear/subscriptions/books/youtube/fitness all can help with but wont solve. My switch from a 10-20% to an 80% success hunter has come through the painstaking process of adapting to lots of failure and thousands of miles of bootleather.....dozens of failed stalks, entire seasons not finding game, critical gear failures, seasons of hunting the same old spot that worked 5 years ago or walking out of prime country "because its too close to the road and I need to get deep", or missed shots because I didnt take the time to develop proficiency with different shooting positions/distances. Be flexible, determined and embody the mindset of a student. One more thing, as a guiding principle, if its difficult, uphill and uncomfortable, those are typically correlated with "the right way".
 

Diamond K

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
47
Location
West Central Missouri
For my "next level" it was when I felt the desire to help other achieve the same success I had found. I had been there and done that to the point that I never doubted that I would be successful in my hunt. So I started taking other who were struggling to be successful in their hunting. Often this was due to age, both young and older.
There is nothing more satisfying than helping a young hunter get their first turkey, deer, duck, elk and so on. The same can be said about helping an older hunter that struggles to get around on what might be their final hunt.
Brings a smile and a tear all at the same time. That is my success.
 

MokeBerserker

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2020
Messages
195
Next level, im not there yet. But i work harder than the next ten guys at least.

Such a broad topic and I hunt everything from elk and mule deer to pheasants and ducks. But what I love is mule deer hunting. They are by far the biggest challenge, especially where I live in CA, and their mysteriousness is what draws me back again and again. Next level is part learning their lifestyle. Its nomadic, rugged, random, harsh, and in the most beautiful country. Ive been getting into to big bucks but not always closing. Next level could be finding them consistently, and closing. That takes practice, persistence, perseverance. Also quality gear I trust and have learned intimately from trial and mostly error.

If you pull all those key words, thats my next level. Will be different for everyone. What keeps it going is knowing what ive seen, and what im yet to see. Cant wait for next season already.
 

Laramie

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2020
Messages
813
Mine went to the next level when I really took care of all the things that made me feel guilty going as much as I do. Work your tail off at your job, your responsibilities, and your relationships so you feel like you deserve to be on the mountain for however long you need to be. I am eternally thankful for the tag in my pocket, the money to go, and especially a wife that truly understands.
 

Crowmangler

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
376
Location
North Carolina
Being driven to succeed. Not casually interested, or "kinda/sorta" into it, or even momentarily "motivated". Driven....as in borderline obsessed. I suppose that approach bleeds over into other aspects of the process (scouting, physical fitness, watching videos/reading books, researching equipment, etc.)
Being "Driven" is the key to success in almost every facet of life. Work, relationships and generally achieving goals.
With respect to hunting, It's: shooting an extra 20 rounds in field conditions instead of off a bench, being out in the crappy weather for one more evening hunt, hiking the extra mile(s), stalking that extra 100 yards to get a better shot, etc. Like the old saying goes.. "The harder I work, the luckier I get"
 
OP
CAB

CAB

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2017
Messages
45
Location
Fort Collins,CO
Wow guys awesome responses so much knowledge and insight I really appreciate it!! For me the next goal I'm working towards is Mule deer and getting better. I love small game as a way to get out and check out new areas but honestly it's just a way to keep active.

Since I just moved to CO I have a lot to learn in terms of of location and areas. I was in WA for 4 years and I was just starting to get the hang of it there so I know it's going to take time here.

This forum and the search bar had been my friend to say the least. Thanks everyone.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
 

street

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2018
Messages
395
Location
CO
Scouting for me. Only way for me to figure out an area. I can't just show up to a place on the hunt an be successful. I'm not at that level.
 

Spoonbill

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
323
For me it was getting a dog. Once I started working with him and seeing him improve, I started paying more attention to cover and where we would find birds. Not that I am a great bird hunter by any means, but watching my dog get fired up everytime the shotgun comes out of the safe and seeing his drive to chase and retrieve birds has made me a better bird hunter, even if its been at the expense of big game hunting.

Also having friends that are at the next level has been huge. Having people that can tell you what you are doing wrong or offer up advice is priceless. Also trying to kill something bigger than your buds helps with the drive to get better.
 

carter33

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
326
Location
Fairbanks
I quit messing around with all the species I wasn't really passionate about but was burning precious vacation days, money, and energy on. I miss elk hunting sometimes. But I'll survive.

How did you know when you hit the “one” species? I understand what you’re saying, the best only focus on one sport. What I would find equally impressive is the guy who could hunt any species and do it better than most.

I am not a high achieving hunter by any means but I do still find a lot of passion in a multitude of animals. Living in Alaska I probably have a skewed perspective but I couldn’t imagine putting all my time into shooting the next biggest of any species and not taking advantage of the other opportunities out there. Even living in this state I’m really looking hard into a mountain lion hunt behind hounds next year for the experience.
 

thinhorn_AK

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2016
Messages
4,597
Location
Alaska
Basically getting comfortable with spending more money or taking time off work.

Having a good wife also helps a lot, she knows that during moose season, I’m basically not going to be spending any time at home until I get one. Other hunts I’ll go for a week or 2 a d she’s
Also cool with that.
 

D.Rose

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2020
Messages
166
The older I get the more I realize the importance of slowing down and taking it all in. What I mean by that is just take my time and give my mind time to work the area. The more I increase my overall awareness the faster I put the pieces together and figure out what's going on in the area. Sometimes it is the very fine details that make or break your success.
 

Wapiti1

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,365
Location
Indiana
Realistic expectations, and being completely honest with yourself, I think, are the two most important factors.

Blame the weather, other hunters, the deer, blah, blah, blah. YOU didn't get it done. Why not?

Lastly, pay attention to the humans as much as the animals. Is everyone road hunting? You need to be one ridge back from the road. Is everyone parking in certain areas, or sticking to a region. Why? Maybe a big herd with little bulls. You should be looking a little higher and maybe farther back than the meat hunters.

Jeremy
 

cnelk

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2012
Messages
3,372
Location
N Colorado
Keep a journal.
I write down every elk encounter I have - location, time of day, wind, weather, and think about 'why' that animal was there at that moment

I will then enter each location in GE and the pattern of encounters become clear
 
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