Hunting seasons are very different from one country to the next, and that is exactly why I consider myself a very lucky man. I live and hunt in England where technically hunting happens all year round. If you are lucky enough to have permission to hunt the ground where muntjac is present, then you will have deer stalking for 365 days a year. Muntjac, rabbits, pigeon, wild boar, crows and foxes can be hunted all year round and most of the above (except muntjac) can be shot at night too.
I would say that the key factors a good hunter should focus on during offseason are the preparation and maintenance of your equipment, things like: high-seats, chillers, handling facilities, knives, packing equipment, and also woodland pruning, installation of cameras and exploring new hunting grounds.
Hunting spot preparation
Preparing a hunting spot in the right way is one of the main tasks for a successful season ahead. Pruning, trimming, cutting and clearing vegetation and brambles will determine how well animals will pass your feeding spots and cameras. When you install high-seats, think of the way you’ll get to them: that’s why you need to know your ground inside out – where animals go in, where they go out, where they cross.
At the same time, I would suggest that visiting a nearby shooting range is a very beneficial exercise: even if you don’t have access to a shooting range, there is always the option to go into a field, set up some targets and practice your shooting.
Training can be as hard or as easy as you want, and a lot will depend on the type of hunting you usually do. Most hunting/deer stalking in the UK is done as a “walk up” and doesn’t require a lot of stamina or physics: woodland stalking is a relatively easy task and the only time you really need some power is when you are carrying a carcass back to the car. Accuracy skills required for woodland stalking are also questionable as the majority of animals are taken at distances of less than 100 meters; there are a few exceptions where there might be the possibility of stretching the range to 120-150 meters. Saying this, practice is still needed and will pay off in better bullet placement and less meat damage.
When you are practicing for longer ranges (300 meters and beyond), my best tip would be: practice your breathing, learn how your loads behave in different weather conditions and what is the best shooting position for your type of shooting.
I guess what I am trying to say is – any practice, any potential improvement will be beneficial.
What about your preparation?