15 hunting mistakes you should avoid

15 Hunting Mistakes You Should Avoid

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Hunting is an opportunity to bond with other hunters, enjoy nature and relax. However, few things are more frustrating at the end of your hunting trip than going home empty-handed. Read on for 15 common hunting mistakes you should avoid to enhance the success of your hunting venture and improve your skills.

1. Failing to invest in the right hunting clothing

One of the most significant mistakes most hunters make is failing to wear appropriate hunting gear. This compromises their safety, confidence, and comfort. Be sure to tailor hunting clothing choices to the climate you will be in, then plan accordingly for the temperature changes.

Consider layering your clothes, especially when unsure of the location's weather conditions. This way, you can shed specific garments and add them back as the temperature changes. 

hunter in a forest aiming at an animal

2. Over-reliance on trail cameras

A trail camera is an invaluable asset during a hunt. It helps you learn what animals are in your target hunting location and their tendencies, improving the chances of a successful hunt. However, trail cameras do not often cover each spot in the hunting area.

They do not usually cover an area around stands where shot opportunities could present themselves and fail to inform you about what could be happening a few yards away from your stand. For this reason, you should combine in-person sightings with trail camera viewing. 

Wildlife enthusiast setting up a trail camera on tree and operating buttons

3. Not carrying emergency essentials and gear

It can be tempting to overlook safety and security when on the hunting ground just because you have a short gun at hand. However, a lot of unexpected situations could happen while on the mountain. You could be caught in a snow avalanche, be attacked by a bear, fall off cliffs, or be stabbed by branches, so it is vital to pack emergency supplies and gear.

Emergency tools like a first aid kit, tarp, backup headlamps, and batteries can mean the difference between getting off the mountain early or not making it out. 

First aid kit in hands of a hunter

4. Failing to conceal your scent

Most hunters often take robust scent control measures at the beginning of a hunting season. They will use scent-free soaps to mask their scent, invest in scent-elimination washing supplies, cover equipment with pines, and even pay more attention to the wind.

However, as time passes, they start visiting the gas station in camouflaging clothing, eating, or starting fires at the hunting spot, neutralizing previous scent control practices. This alerts the target prey of your presence, triggering them to run away. For this reason, you should stay on top of your scent control practice throughout the hunting season to reduce the chances of going home empty-handed.

hunter igniting camp fire to conceal his smell

5. Being loud

Avoid loud noises when hunting, as this scares your target animals away. Birds and animals have great survival instincts to detect slight sounds and quick maneuvers.

You should park a few miles away from the area you intend to hunt, and invest in hunting clothing that produces little or no noise when moving. You could also move slowly towards your prey to catch a quarry unaware and get the best shot. 

Hunter using googles to watch animal in a crop field

6. Playing games or spending too much time on the phone

You may be tempted to pull out your phone and play games or scroll through social media, especially when you feel your hunting spot is dead. In addition to allowing your target quarry to get away, a dangerous animal could sneak up behind you when you are not paying attention, compromising your safety.

Hunting Season Game Spotting

7. Not informing anyone where you are going

Whether you are going solo hunting or hunting with a friend, it is crucial to let someone not on the team know your plans and where you are going. You could get lost due to the excitement of your chase, unpredictable weather conditions, or your hunting device could fail. Telling someone about your plans increases the chances of a successful search-and-rescue in case you are reported missing.

Hunter talking to someone on a walkie-talkie while standing outdoors

8. Relying on your firearm safety

Whether your firearm’s slide(tang), cross-belt (hammer and trigger), half-cock (hammer), or pivot safety is on, you should never let your guard down. An unexpected movement or overall wear and tear could release the safety, injuring you or someone else in the hunting field.

Before getting into the area, you should identify where your firearms safety is located and how it operates, and avoid releasing it unless you are ready to shoot. You should also keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction in case the safety fails.

Hunter woman with shotgun hunting in the field.

9. Not using the appropriate stance or position

The stance or position you take significantly impacts your chances of hitting your target. Consider the firearm you intend to use to pick an appropriate position or posture, then dedicate time to practicing to gain proficiency. Here are some ideal stances for different guns:

  • Shotgun: Use a sitting or standing stance with enough balance while leaving enough room to swing your muzzle.
  • Handgun: Using a steady limb, a trunk, or another stable object as rest, apply a standing or sitting stance to aim at your target. You could place paddings such as jackets or hats on top of your hard rest to improve your aim.
  • Rifle: to shoot using a rifle, apply a standing, kneeling, prone, or sitting stance. You could also use a rest like a large rock, log, or any other stable object to enhance your stance’s accuracy. Instead of resting your barrel on hard surfaces, consider putting a jacket or hut under your rifle. Placing a barrel on a hard surface makes you shoot higher than intended.
Close-up Of Man Hunting With Rifle

10. Not practicing with your hunting apparel

Investing in appropriate hunting clothing is not enough. You must also ascertain that you can shoot easily, especially when wearing your winter gear. Some hunting apparel, such as shooting gloves, often affect how one grips the bow. You could end up unintentionally torquing it left or right.

Wearing gloves covering the fingertips can also keep you from feeling the fingers or the thumb on the release trigger, resulting in a poor shot. For this reason, you should dedicate time to practicing in your backyard when wearing your hunting gear to increase the chances of a successful hunt.

Male with a gun in hunting period

11. Failing to secure permission to hunt on private land

Although public locations provide hunters with a favorable hunting environment, most people prefer hunting on private properties as they are not often overcrowded. Private land also allows hunters to be selective with their hunt.  However, most hunters fail to secure permission from the landowners before hunting on private property.

This makes you vulnerable to legal suits and fines for trespassing, so ensure that you seek approval before entering private land. You could further protect yourself by requesting a formal document the law enforcement can use to verify the permission.

Turkey hunting in Montana

12. Using the wrong firearm ammunition

It is worth noting that ammunition and firearms are not often equal. Even when the bore or barrel has similar dimensions to a shotgun, rifle, or handgun, it does not always imply that it is ideal for the firearm. For instance, while 270 cartridge chambers in 30-06 barrels, you could cause life-threatening repercussions if you fire the gun.

Always check the manufacturer’s stamp on a barrel’s rear end to determine the required shell or cartridge length and gauge and caliber to evaluate the correct ammunition. You could also match the gauge or caliber designation on the barrel’s side with the gauge or caliber on your shell to ensure that you have the correct ammunition before going on your hunting trip. This prevents you from hurting yourself or someone else on the hunting field or damaging the gun.

hunting rifle and cartridges

13. Relying on old patterns when new intel contradicts it

Target animals such as deers often have repetitive in-season patterns, which usually last a few weeks or days. You should keep up-to-date with the changing patterns by relying on cellular trail cameras or in-person sightings to improve your hunting outcome. Consider acting on the latest intel if you receive any new information that contradicts older data.

hunting rifle and cartridges

14. Being negligent

Every state has rules and regulations that often govern the hunting grounds. These guidelines often change from season to season, so keeping yourself updated with your state’s current hunting law changes, enforcement, and seasons is essential.

This will prevent severe consequences such as jail time, license revocations, firearm forfeiture, citations, and fines due to hunting regulation violations. Be sure to also have your license or permit and hunter’s education certificate with you every time you go hunting. 

Wooden hunting tower in the winter forest in the mountains

15. Not having a plan

Before beginning your hunt trip, ensure that you plan for each aspect of the venture, from your schedule, location, and lodging to the transportation. You should also determine whether or not you require to make reservations beforehand to plan accordingly.

Be sure to also research the hunting game in season on the location you intend to hunt and the available facilities to allow you to prepare accordingly. You could also decide on how much time you plan on spending on specific hunting locations to ensure that you pack enough supplies and remain alert and fresh. 

Hunters with hunting equipment going away through rural forest at sunrise during hunting season in


Proper planning and preparation can mean the difference between a disappointing and successful hunt. Familiarize yourself with the above hunting mistakes and avoid them to ensure a successful hunting trip.

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Baptiste is an adventurer with a passion for urban and wilderness exploration and adventure, and a lover of vintage objects with timeless charm. As a Founding member of the Eiken team, he tries to share his passion and expertise for travel and vintage fashion through his articles.

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