When bowhunting, it’s important to stay alert and watchful. You never know when deer, turkeys or other wildlife will appear, and you must be ready to set up and make an accurate shot. That said, time in the woods flies some days and crawls on others. When you simply must keep busy to avoid going stir crazy while awaiting action, try one or all of these suggestions. Realize, however, that such distractions aren’t risk-free. You could fail to hear or see passing game, or you could spook your quarry when hurrying to stow your “distractions” and grab your bow.
6 Fun Things to Do if You Get Bored Hunting:
1) Plug in
If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can busy yourself for hours. The downside to electronics, however, is that battery life determines your entertainment. If you have a fully charged, long-lasting battery, try these suggestions.
Take a hunting selfie
“Hunting selfies don’t take much time but they’re a ritual for me when I’m settling into my stand. Sometimes I post the photos on social media and other times I just send them to friends to let them know I have my game-face on!” – Nicole Nash, Bloomfield, Kentucky
Text your hunting friends or significant other to keep up with what everyone is seeing.
If you aren’t seeing wildlife while hunting, you can still see pigs and birds on one of the many free Angry Bird games. What better time to see just how many candy pieces you can crush or how many pigs you can knock off a pedestal? You can play those or a ton of other free games while sitting statue-like in a blind or tree stand. Just be sure to turn off the volume!
Post your hunting selfie or the view of your hunting site to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other social media.
If your phone or tablet battery dies and you’re not done hunting, you’ll want a backup plan for passing the time.
Even if you usually read digital books, leafing through a good old-fashioned paperback is the perfect way to unplug. Be sure you have a space readily available so you can slip your book, tablet or phone away quietly when wildlife approaches.
“If you have a rangefinder, practice calculating shooting distances. Without a rangefinder, you can still visualize making the perfect shot by studying possible scenarios, shot angles, wind direction and where game can come from.” – Michael Turbyfill, PR and marketing director, Whitetail Properties
3) Rest and refresh
Hunting or simply spending time outdoors are perfect ways to reconnect with nature, and calm and slow your pace. You might be surprised how refreshed you feel after taking some time – however short – away from life’s bustling pace.
Sitting in a tree stand or ground blind a long time can stiffen muscles and cause fatigue. If you’re in a tree stand, stand up, stretch your arms overhead and bend at the waist to each side a few times. This helps prevent cramps and stiffness from sitting in one position too long.
In a ground blind, doing a yoga “child’s pose” on the ground and breathing deeply 10 times is a quick way to stretch and relax. To get into a child’s pose, kneel with both knees on the ground, sit back on your heels (you want your feet to point so the tops of your feet completely touch the ground), drape your torso over your thighs, and rest your forehead on the ground. Voila! Commence deep relaxation. This is a mild stretch for the lower body that helps you focus and relieve tension.
“Early mornings and long days take a toll on your body. A short nap can keep your senses sharp and leave you less prone to making mistakes when moving or trying to make a shot. If you’re hunting with a partner, one person can sleep while the other keeps watch.” – PJ Perea, Winchester Museum coordinator, National Wild Turkey Federation
To truly slow down and relax, try meditating. Find a comfortable position while sitting or lying down. Begin with a few deep breaths, breathing deep in your stomach to help you relax and experience the moment. Close your eyes and experience whatever is present without resisting anything or trying to change it. Do this for about a minute.
Note: You can do this with your eyes open so you can breathe deeply and relax while still monitoring the woods.
When hunting, you’ll often be in the woods before sunrise and after sunset. Even when you don’t see game animals, seeing the first stream of sunlight as morning fog clears, or hearing the evening crickets’ first chirps is worth every moment in the woods. Maximize your experience and rejuvenate your soul by listening to the woods. Also try to identify birds by their calls.
“Several CDs and apps play bird calls you could hear in a given area. I listen to bird calls leading up to hunting trips so I can tell what calls I’m hearing while sitting in my tree stand. It’s fun being able to determine which bird calls I’m hearing.” – Jennifer Mazur, coordinator of archery and bowhunting programs
As long as you’re tuning in to the woods around you, keep track of what you see and hear, which helps sharpen your hunting skills.
Pay attention to weather, moon phases, singing birds and other factors to see if you can detect movement trends. Note what you see and hear in your hunting journal.
“Create a range map for each hunting site. Write down or draw a map of recognizable landmarks, and use a laser rangefinder to get accurate distances from your stand. It will be handy for others who hunt the stand. The birdhouse is 30 yards away, the fence is 25 yards away, etc.” – PJ Perea
“Bring a camera and take photos of birds, small mammals and other critters. It might spark a hobby or career interest.” – Matt Lindler, editor, JAKES Country Magazine, NWTF photography director
If you’ve slowed down and relaxed, and are thinking of things you must clean or organize, get started while you’re hunting.
Reorganize your vest or pack
Now’s the time to put calls within easy reach, chalk squeaky box calls, sand friction calls and pegs, and inspect the condition of diaphragm calls. Go ahead and put bottles, food wrappers, old licenses and other trash where you’ll remember to dump them later, and clean the lenses on your rangefinder and binoculars.
All this sitting and thinking might have spurred you to shop for new hunting supplies when you leave. Jot your to-do lists and shopping lists now, before you forget.