Hunting: How to Prepare Your Mind

Hunting, like most things in life, involves both physical and mental preparation. How we train and treat our bodies affects our day to day operation and performance. Eating a balanced diet provides us with the fuel we need to thrive and consistent physical training prepares us to complete the strenuous tasks we may face. Proper training and maintenance of our physical health allows us to traverse harsh terrain and get to a hunting spot that is well off the beaten path. However, being in peak physical shape isn’t the only characteristic of a successful sportsman. Mental preparedness is crucial to success and lacking it is a major hindrance. A well-rounded hunter is as strong mentally as they are physically.

The single best strategy for developing and harnessing your mental strength is to craft a mental game plan and rehearse it. This game plan or strategy is laid out in your mind and involves hours of visualizing and replaying the potential scenarios we are prone to face as hunters. This process can continue for days, weeks, and sometimes years before it is realized and played out in a real life hunting situation. The key is having the discipline to rehearse and visualize all the components of a successful hunt. This will prepare you for flawless execution in the moment.

When developing your mental game plan, it is essential that you define what success looks like and from there you can start to breakdown the entire process. Visualize the game you are after and focus on their movement patterns. Begin to detail the environment that you see yourself in. Is it a familiar spot or uncharted territory? Consider all weather conditions you may experience and how these changes will affect the hunt. What should I do if the wind switches? Was there an unexpected frost that lead to crunchy leaves which has now made stalking impossible? Determine how you can put yourself in the best position for success. Is my best vantage point on the ground or in a stand? Will this location provide me with an adequate amount of camouflage and allow me the opportunity to pull off the best shot possible? By asking yourself simple questions, you will begin to see the plan unfold.

Visualization is the most important component of your mental game plan. From the sounds that the animal makes as it moves in your direction to the feel of the firearm or bow in your hands as you put it in position to take your shot; it all makes a difference. Take the time to run through all of these feelings, thoughts, and emotions in your mind. Picture the exact moment when you release your string or squeeze the trigger and see your shot. Focus on everything from your breathing to your anchor points. Hunting is an art and our minds are the canvas we must utilize to see the end result and how we want it to play out.

Practicing these techniques and developing a plan will help you control your nerves. Pursuing wild game releases adrenaline and causes heavy excitement and anxiety. This feeling can be overwhelming and at times it is too much to handle. This can result in a missed shot or a blown opportunity. Imagine the last moments of the hunt and the surge of adrenaline that gets our heart pumping and hands shaking.

As you rehearse the plan over and over in your head, your body will actually start to adapt and become better prepared to handle these spikes of emotions. This skill is no different from any other in that it requires countless hours of practice to truly master. Review and rehearse your plan in your head repeatedly. You will still feel those nerves when you are on your hunt, but proper preparation will get your body and mind ready to handle those exciting game-time situations.

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