The November issue of Pull The Trigger, NSSF’s newsletter of useful tips for hunters and shooters, contains the following list of reminders that can ensure a hassle-free, enjoyable hunting trip.
You’ll see that some tips apply to all hunts while others are intended to help those going an outfitter hunt that involves airline travel.
The list is based on suggestions by NSSF employees who hunt and is not intended to be comprehensive. Since we’ll be updating the list in future and posting it in the hunting section of NSSF’s website, we encourage you to add your own reminders in this blog’s comments field.
Also, keep in mind that NSSF makes available video tips on a number of the topics mentioned here, such as sighting in your rifle and mounting a scope, at its YouTube channel, youtube.com/thenssf.
- Review and follow hunting safety procedures to prevent an accident involving your hunting buddies, guides, dogs, non-hunters or yourself.
- Don’t wear boots that haven’t been broken in.
- Become familiar with your gun. Go to the range before you leave for hunting camp, not only to sight in your gun but to become comfortable shooting your firearm so that you will shoot accurately when the moment of truth arrives. Consider wearing the same clothing at practice sessions that you’ll be hunting in. Don’t arrive in camp with a brand-new gun with which you have little experience.
- Practice the positions you may have to shoot from during your hunt—kneeling, sitting, standing positions using shooting sticks, using your day pack as a rest or your bipod. Try to have a rock-steady rest before taking your shot.
- Mount your scope correctly. If you are hunting big game far from home, pack a second rifle scope, set up to fit your rifle and sighted in, as a backup sight system. A spooked saddle horse or tumble on some shale or ice has ruined a scope and hunt for many a hunter. With more and more of today’s rifles lacking iron sights on the barrel, you will appreciate having that spare scope as a backup.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase your hunting license, and be sure to take care of all licensing requirements.
- Eliminate surprises. Learn as much about where you will be staying, the area you will be hunting, what the weather might be like and what you need to bring before getting to your destination.
- Get in shape. Not being able to handle the conditions lessens your chances of success, can turn a great experience into an agonizing one and can endanger your health.
- Make a complete list of everything you’ll need well in advance of your hunt, and create a checklist to help make sure you have it all packed. That includes arms, ammunition, proper clothing (including spare clothes), hunting accessories, toiletries, medication, et al. Bring too much rather than not enough clothing and ammunition.
- If provided, follow your outfitter’s packing suggestions closely.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your outfitter, guide or fellow hunters.
- If you think you’ll want a mount of the game you bag, have your taxidermist lined up, find out what he will need from you, and have his address and telephone number with you for any shipping you might have to do and questions that might arise.
- Pack your camera, battery charger and extra batteries so you can share images of your great day afield.
- Bring a small gun-cleaning kit with cleaning rod, bore brush, patches, solvent, lubricant, a small rag and any tools necessary for disassembly/reassembly of your firearm.
- Cover your gun’s muzzle with a piece of tape to keep out mud, snow, ice, nest-building bugs or anything else that could create a bore obstruction. You can shoot right through it. Many experienced hunters pack a pocket- or backpack-sized collapsible, rigid cleaning rod. A bore obstruction must be cleared before you shoot, and not having a packable rod with you can mean a long walk back to camp or your truck.
- If you are crossing state or national borders, find out about any special considerations you must take care of. Crossing national borders might require filing information or getting documents before you leave home. State border crossings can mean knowing about firearm-transport- or Chronic Wasting Disease-related regulations.
- If you are flying with a firearm, confirm the requirements of your airline(s).
- Invest in a quality hard-sided gun case that is airline-approved and offers good protection to your firearm and scope. Whether you are traveling locally by auto or flying to a distant location, nothing is worse than arriving and finding your firearm has sustained some damage in transit.
- Bring a soft-sided gun case for local transportation. The hard case is great for protecting the gun from commercial airline baggage handling, but cumbersome for daily use (and it may not in a small chartered plane).
- If you are flying to your hunting destination, pack your “hunting valuables” in your airline-approved hard-shell gun case. Once TSA has inspected your gun case, it is locked and only you have the key for it. This assures that your other must-have hunting gear such as your binoculars and hunting knife will arrive at your destination along with your firearm and will not disappear from your checked luggage.
- When flying, pack some clothing and toiletries in your carry-on luggage so that you may still be able to hunt even if the airline misdirects your luggage. Don’t carry on prohibited items, however, or else you may never make it to your hunt.
- Bring your rain gear. Not having it will all but guarantee it will rain or snow.
- Share words of advice with the new hunter you have invited out with you, and explain why things are done a certain way.
- Be prepared for an emergency as much as possible. Doing so can mean a small thing won’t snowball into something really dangerous. Carry basic emergency supplies—fire starter, water purification tablets, etc. Bring a first-aid kit.
- Make sure someone in a secure location knows where you will be and when you will check in upon return. This person should have instructions to notify authorities if you miss the check-in. And don’t forget to check in.
- Be a good, safe and fun hunting companion. You’ll be invited back!
Looking for more information on hunting? Visit nssf.org/hunting