I have been hunting for almost two years now, but somehow I learn something new every single time I find myself in the woods. While my hunter safety course was insightful, I believe they left out a few important tips. Here are my top ten tips for new hunters, in no particular order:
1. Trees move. Not just little leave and branches when a cool breeze comes through. The ENTIRE trunk will move. So do not think that just because you are strapped into your stand with a nice little safety harness that you will not be swaying in the breeze. You will be, and you will not "get used to it."
2. Squirrels are your worst enemy. They will crash through the leaves behind you sounding like a _______ (insert whatever animal you are trying to hunt). They will prance above your head making you think you are about to be attacked. Armadillos will do this also, but they are way cuter and funnier to watch than a silly squirrel so I will give them a free pass.
3. Trees will jump out and smack you on the head when you are walking through the woods (I am envisioning the talking trees from The Wizard of Oz, aren't you?), especially if you are busy looking down so that you don't step on any branches and alert the forest creatures to your whereabouts. Invest in a headlamp and maybe a helmet...or just learn how to look down and in front of you at the same time.
4. Face painting is a fabulous alternative to a face mask. Much more comfortable in warmer weather and way more fun! I suggest watching various hunting/war DVDs to get some inspiration. Try out some different patterns. I enjoy the diagonal multi-color stripe technique. Though difficult to get off, baby wipes do the trick pretty well.
5. They make socks, seats, vests, gloves and who knows what else with battery powered heaters. Freezing is not your only option and it does not "make you tougher," just colder.
6. You may bring snacks with you. I recommend green apple licorice. Not only is it delicious, you can eat it quietly AND it camouflages itself. Cabela's brand is the best, but Tractor Supply and Bass Pro have a close second. Don't worry, I taste tested them all several times before recommending any to you. :o)
7. As long as your cell phone is on silent, bring it.
8. People you hunt with (boyfriend, father, fiance, husband) will buy you all kinds of neat hunting gadgets. They will refuse to let you take them with you hunting because your super cool camouflage backpack, which is filled with these items, will not fit in the tree stand. They will ignore you when you try to discuss why they are allowed to have two bags. (Apparently I hunt with Steven Spielberg who needs an entire bag for his camera equipment.)
9. It is entirely possible that you will sit for an entire day and see absolutely nothing. That being said, I suggest a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors or I Spy to help entertain you.
* I will make #9 a two part tip:
Chances are you will not sit all day. Most likely you will be out of the woods by 11AM. I don't know where men go when they go "hunting" all day, but I will tell you they are not in the woods the entire time (unless they fell asleep in their stand).
10. You will probably never wear matching camouflage. There was a time when I swore that I would always match. I got over that pretty quickly when I realized that the warmest combination did not necessarily match. Get used to rocking seven different patterns. Warmth and comfort take president over fashion. I cannot believe I actually typed that...scratch that thought and add some jewelry.