The end of August is crunch time, and most hunters still have some fine-tuning to do. Here are a few tips to help you get as dialed as possible for the start of the season:
Shooting: Less is more. Focus on quality reps, finding a rock solid anchor and settling your pin, and REPEAT. Slow down between shots, breathe, concentrate on form and visualize the target. Like programming a computer, each shot should input the same code into your brain and muscles until your shot becomes automatic. Treat each release as your one and only opportunity at a screaming Colorado bull or velvet-horned Arizona mule deer.
Find comfort in a few uncomfortable shooting positions. Shoot on steep hills, and in seated and off-balance positions. Personally, I need to know how a steep slope affects my arrows, my anchor point and my stance.
Conditioning: Use this time to push your muscles and mind! For me, I decrease the length of my runs and increase the angle and speed. Three days a week, I weigh down my pack to as heavy as I can bear and simply carry it as far as I can in 30 minutes. I force my legs to feel the pain, bear the weight, condition my hips to feel the strain and push the discomfort in my shoulders. I want my body to grow accustomed to the weight and find the last bit of power I will need in September.
Do not, under any circumstance, skip out on stretching. Stretching is the key to avoid injury, release tension, and clear your head.
Scouting: My weekend scouting trips are about more than just finding animals. I use them to practice my stalks, learn new trails and explore the next ridge.
Scout more than the animals, scout the terrain, the topography and cover, and possible ambush points. Use your scouting trips to see how the wind swirls in a back mountain basin. As a bowhunter, I try (and I mean try) to learn how the wind will move my sent along a mountain slope and how the thermals and sun will affect my stalk.
Having confidence in your gear and being in the right shape physically and mentally will make this thing you're obsessed with that much more enjoyable.
Most importantly in these last weeks, enjoy the time with your family and earn a few brownie points, you'll need them soon!
Photo credit: David Anderson & Cam Foss