2016 is in the books as December draws to a close, so it’s time to recap on your hunting experiences and plan for 2017. Hunters that were successful this year should strive to build on that success and set goals for next year.
If you’ve struggled this year and your season didn’t go as planned, now is the time to do something about it. Set a New Year’s Resolution, and stick with it. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Get Others Involved
The first step to any good New Year’s Resolution is to tell other people about it. You might like to think you have excellent willpower and that the mere act of thinking you want to do something will be enough to push you to follow through, but for the rest of us mortals, we usually need a bit more incentive. Social accountability is one of the best ways to stay honest with your resolution. Tell your hunting buddies about your resolution and ask them to help keep you on track. If you work together to remind each other, you’ll be much more likely to achieve your goals.
The more people that know about your resolution, the more accountable you will be. Are you on social media? Posting to the world about your resolution is a great way to find others that might have the same goal, and you can build a network of people for support.
Even better, try to recruit others to get involved in the same resolution you are setting. An excellent resolution for any outdoorsman is just to spend more time outdoors, and there is no better way to share your passion and stick to your goal than to take a beginner hunter under your wing. You’ll be giving them an incredible gift while you benefit from their energy and the motivation they have to offer.
Regardless of what you choose for a resolution, it’s important to relate it to something you love so you’ll have a constant drive to stick with it.
Choose Your Passion
The easiest resolutions to keep are those that are closely tied to your passions. This isn’t too difficult for most outdoorsmen as we’re some of the most devoted sportsmen out there.
The key is to keep your eye on the goal and if you can relate that goal to your love for the outdoors, you’ll be much more likely to achieve it.
Hitting the gym and getting in shape are very popular options for New Year’s Resolutions, but they are among the hardest resolutions to keep because they are both time consuming and physically taxing on your body.
A great way to push yourself to stick with your exercise routine is to plan a physically intensive hunt for next fall. As you go through the year, you can keep in mind that you need to be in proper shape to be ready for the hunt.
Plan a hunt where you’ll need to scale a mountain in pursuit of an elk or pack out a hundred pounds of venison on a 10 mile hike. Whatever the challenge is, just make sure it sounds exciting enough to keep you pumped and intimidating enough to make you work hard.
Need more cash for the hunt you’re planning? Calculate how much you would spend on a gym membership and divert those funds toward the hunt.
If you think you can only get in shape if you spend five hours at the gym each week, you will be amazed at the workout achievable courtesy of Mother Nature. Start slow and just hike a mountain. A few hundred feet of elevation on the rocky terrain will sculpt your legs better than any elliptical.
Once that gets too easy, pick up the pace or grab a backpack and fill it with rocks, sandbags or jugs of water. Carrying weights on your back or in hand is excellent for activating your upper body on your way up the mountain. You’ll be prepared for your hunt before you know it and you’ll have the added benefit of enjoying the outdoors the whole time while saving money at the gym.
Bonus points if you can work out near where you hunt and get in some off season scouting with rocks on your back. If being in shape for a hunt isn’t enough to keep you motivated, try adding in a little extra reward for accomplishing your resolution.
Plan A Reward
A resolution is not a resolution if it’s something you already do on a consistent basis. Change in general is difficult because it forces us to consciously pull ourselves from the comfortable, every-day norm.
When it comes to sticking with your goal for 2017, having a light at the end of the tunnel for yourself can make all the difference.
If fitness motivation through preparation for a hunt doesn’t fit the bill, give yourself a reward for sticking with your resolution. Most hunters can agree that we are gearnuts. I spend more time than I care to admit looking at the brand new product offerings from my favorite outdoor companies.
Whether it’s a brand new bow from Mathews or a new set of outerwear from Sitka, choose a high dollar item you idolize, and set that as your reward for sticking with your New Year’s Resolution. A full year of anticipation will give you the most enjoyment possible from your new gear, and it will also give you time to save your pennies to afford the gear. Set a date in advance to reward yourself and check off the calendar days as you go.
Another approach to motivating yourself is to start small, split up your rewards and plan them for milestones throughout the year.
Start Small and Set Reminders
It’s going to be tough, but if you pick the right goal, it will always be worth it.
You don’t need to start off with a huge goal from the beginning. It can be much easier to deal with the difficulties of changing by swallowing one bite at a time.
If your goal is to put more time in during the offseason to focus on Quality Deer Management and developing your hunting properties, start by outlining a plan with steps toward your goal. Dividing these steps by month is a great way to prioritize certain activities based on the time of year, and don’t forget to add a reward to encourage yourself to complete them.
Splitting up a full set of gear is an excellent incentive. You will feel an extra motivation to complete the monthly tasks because you won’t want to reach opening day of hunting season with an incomplete set of gear.
Set a calendar reminder for the end of each month, review your QDM progress and if you’re successful with accomplishing that month’s goal, buy one piece of gear in a set. Maybe start with a hat or a pair of gloves from First Lite. As you continue through the year, you will gradually achieve your goal and accumulate some top of the line gear while improving your hunting properties at the same time.
If you miss a month or you are late to the resolution party, all is not lost. Months and years are man-made inventions created to measure the passing of time between orbits around the sun. They shouldn’t have overall control of your resolution, so if you lose your way and miss a goal, don’t get down and give up. Just do your best to get back on track and keep your eye on the prize.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Failure is easy. It happens to all of us, but don’t let it be a crutch that keeps you from achieving your goals. A few missed sessions at the gym or a couple weeks without shooting your bow should not keep you from fulfilling your resolution. The important part is that you are aware of it and you can use it as a learning experience. If you aren’t sticking with your goals, maybe you should set more reasonable milestones, or try rewarding yourself more for the successes you can achieve.
Goal setting can be your best friend as you strive to become the best hunter you can be, and a New Year’s Resolution is a great place to start. So, what’s your resolution for 2017? Below are a few ideas to help get you started.
- Get in better shape
- Practice more with my hunting weapons
- Spend more time in the outdoors
- Go on more hunting trips with friends
- Do more offseason preparation with food plots
- Be more aggressive with trail cameras and set new stands
Tell us about your 2017 New Year’s Resolution in the comments below and we might feature your resolution idea on our site! Want more tips to become a better hunter? Download the Quiver Hunting App today to help you step up your whitetail game. We all know hunting mature whitetails isn’t easy, so let Quiver help you be in the right spot at the right time.
Have a question that you’d like answered? Leave a comment below!