By Alex Comstock
January can be an interesting month in the deer hunting world. In between some states having the end of their season still running, some people wanting to decompress from deer season, the start of winter scouting, and even some shed hunting, there's a lot of different dynamics going on. But one thing that you can do is start planning your 2018 season.
When it comes to planning your hunting for the future, a lot hinges on the past. And a lot depends on how you take what's happened in the past, and apply it going forward. These five questions are what I'll be asking of myself when it comes to planning my 2018 season, and I'd recommend you do the same.
What Went Wrong?: The first question I'm going to ask myself is what went wrong this past season. I'm going to examine mistakes I made, how I made them, and what caused me to make them. The biggest teacher is failure, and if you're going to continue to evolve as a hunter, failure is always inevitable. But learning from your failure is what can ultimately help you in the future. As I look at what mistakes I made this year, I'm going to use though hardships to start putting a plan of attack towards my 2018 season.
What Went Right?: Just as I want to identify what went wrong this season, I also want to take a look at what went right. This doesn't necessarily have to translate to a harvest either. For me, I didn't harvest a buck this year, but there are things I did right. Even small things such as getting in to the stand plenty early during your morning hunts can count as something done right. It may not seem that important, but it's something you can build off of going into 2018. When you combine what you did wrong with what you did right, it leads us into our next question.
What Did I Learn?: Deer hunting, and hunting mature bucks is all about learning. If you can take what went wrong and what went right and combine that information, there is a lot that can be learned. When trying to answer the question of what you learned, don't take anything for face value. It's great to identify what went wrong or what went right, but if you don't take that information further and learn from it, it won't do you any good. Once you can pull a few key items from what you learned, it will serve you well as you start planning your 2018 season.
Are My Goals Changing?: A big part of planning your 2018 season will hinge on what your goals are. Take a look at what your goals will be for the upcoming season and compare that to years prior. Will they be different than what they were in 2017? A lot of what you do when it comes to deer hunting, how hard you work, the attention to detail, etc. is based off goals. For example, last year you may have had a goal of harvesting any mature buck. Whether you were successful or not, this year you may have a more specific goal such as harvesting an early season buck in a certain state. Or maybe your goal will be to have more fun. Whatever your goals are, they are a big part of planning how you'll hunt in 2018, and the quicker you identify your goals, the quicker you can start figuring out how you'll hunt this next year.
Can I Execute?: All of the things mentioned above are great and all, but if you don't execute, their worthless. If you're going to go through the steps of identifying what you did right, what you did wrong, what you've learned, and what your goals are, the most important part of it all is execution. If you can learn from last year, make a plan for 2018, and then execute, only good things will come.
Conclusion: Planning your 2018 season should be starting right now. All of these questions should help aid you in your preparation as you begin to plan how you're going to attack the upcoming season. Time goes by fast, and before you know it, fall will be here.