Poor success at hunting often results from a lack of planning and preparedness. This is especially true with deer hunting in Mississippi because there are so many elements involved in the whole process these days.

Frankly it is no longer as simple as just grabbing up a favorite hunting rifle and hiking out into the woods. 

Sure, you could still do that, but I have not seen or heard of that simplistic approach for years. Modern deer hunting for the truly dedicated hunter has, over the years, gotten much more complicated and technical. It demands attention to details the sum of which can all add up to producing enjoyable and successful deer hunting. Without it, the results are often much less than satisfactory, if not completely frustrating.

Camp care and preparedness

For those owning or leasing private land to hunt each year, this is a top priority. Or if you hunt any of the vast public hunting lands in the state, this same type of effort should be spent on becoming familiar with the landscape, with much time spent on scouting in detail. 

“Camp preparedness implies all the tasks to ready a property for hunting each year,” said Gary Adams, president of Spring Lake Farms in Holmes County. “Our camp has an annual work day well ahead of hunting season to get collective jobs done that might include new construction or major repairs like welding on old stands. Otherwise each owner has specific areas of responsibility, including food-plot mowing and disking for planting; shooting-stand inspection, repair and cleaning; relocating old stands or putting up new ones; or camp yard mowing and clean up.

“Annual tasks include getting the cleaning rack and the electric hoists checked and ready. This means getting the skinning tools, jawbone extractor, and the hoist scales out. We mow all the camp roads and trails, move fallen limbs out of the way or cut them up for camp firewood. The shooting range is straightened up with the summer weeds cleaned out of the screen backstop.

“Of course, those owners with cabins on site spend time getting them ready for the hunting season, too. Cleaning, repairs and restocking are in order. Things tend to deteriorate over the summer. There is a lot to do to get our living quarters ready to be comfortable for the hunting season. It’s just part of the overall experience.” 

Personal prep

This shouldn’t need to be said, but many times hunters just don’t spend the necessary time even thinking about all the individual things they need to be doing to get ready for deer season, much less accomplish them before the opening day. 

“We have a ton of funny stories we still tell around the campfire each season concerning hunters who come to camp less than well prepared,” said Kim Newton, a past camp owner from Hinds County.  “One owner showed up the first year of his own deer-hunting experience wearing a new pair of white tennis shoes — hardly the footwear needed for deer camp or hunting.

“Another hunter bought fresh .30-06 ammo for his new rifle. One of us double-checked it only to discover the gun was chambered for the .270. Luckily, we caught it in time.

“This same hunter always had his wife pack his hunting clothes. Either by accident or maybe to teach him a lesson, he showed up in camp once with only shirts. He had to wear his work Dockers all weekend.”

Hunters must take personal responsibility to handle these items on their own and not the day before they come to camp.

Personal health issues are another matter. We had one camp owner with a serious heart condition, but he would not take it serious enough to see a full-fledged cardiologist. Several years ago he left camp early not feeling well. That week he passed away while driving to work from a massive heart attack. Sad, but it was perhaps preventable. 

The work and joy of hunting can be stressful. Many a time the excitement of buck fever has pushed an unhealthy hunter over the edge. And dragging a deer out of the woods is exhausting. 

All hunters should monitor their own conditions and conditioning. If medications are required, bring them to camp and take them. Monitor blood sugar if you are diabetic, and try to show some willpower against everyday camp food. Quit smoking, and limit your intake of adult beverages.

Remember: The longer you live the more you can hunt. 

Get personal gear ready to go to work and bring it. Don’t show up without boots, ammo, a knife, an orange vest, camouflage, gloves, binoculars, ice cooler with ice and everything else you need to hunt, haul and clean deer. I get tired of bringing bags of ice somebody else uses but does not replace. Few camps tolerate mooches for very long. 

For deer hunters, lack of preparedness should be avoided at all costs. Simply put: It makes no logical sense not to be ready for the upcoming hunting season. Then stay that way all season long.

Prepared hunters make better hunters because there is less to worry about. Take care of the business of deer hunting and the results you yield will be even that much more rewarding in the end.