By Mike Willis
For those who love the outdoors and the endless opportunities that it provides, you are all too familiar with how time-consuming these hobbies can be.
Most sportsmen and women have a full-time job, a family at home, and all of the challenges that go along with them. It can be difficult at best to juggle all of these demands without a hobby that requires relentless commitment.
Since responsible adults (which I am not) recognize the need for priorities, a strategy needs to be formed to ensure that you are capitalizing on every moment with the precious time that you have allotted.
When you don’t have the luxury of devoting every spare moment to your outdoor pursuits, there is a notable sacrifice of preparedness and quality in your hunt. Rather than resolving to believe that this is just how life is, challenge yourself to press into hunting smarter.
Preparation is the single greatest action that you can take to ensure that you make the most out of every trip afield. Without preparation, your trip will be full of frustration and disappointment.
Five years ago, my wife and I had our first child. It was then that I began to discover why the majority of my dedicated hunting buddies were not married and didn’t have kids.
Out of necessity, I began looking for ways to enhance my efficiency in my outdoor activities. Threatened with the reality that my lifestyle was no longer sustainable, I had to make calculated decisions to help keep the dream alive.
During this season of my life, I began to keep detailed records of my hunts. Every time that I would pack for a trip, I carefully recorded every item that I used. In the age of smartphones, most people are carrying around everything that they need to maintain accurate records.
During the initial trips, it took more time because I was writing down everything that I put in my pack. However, the following season I began to reap the fruits of my labor.
I now maintain records on my phone for every kind of trip that I embark on. At a moment’s notice, I can recall every item needed for a mule deer hunt or a sturgeon fishing trip. When I get a call inviting me along on a trip, I quickly refer to the most relevant list and am ready within the hour.
I can’t imagine how much time I lost thinking about what was needed before I started making gear lists. I now realize how foolish this is as I had already put that work in countless times before. Why continue to waste precious time stressing and packing? After all, who likes worrying that they forgot something every time they head out to do what they love?
Most smartphones have apps that allow for check/ uncheck features. These are perfect for quickly running through the list. For those savvy enough to share the list with a friend or spouse, you can ensure that efforts are not being duplicated as you pack for a trip. Shared lists will give real-time updates as your spouse throws items in the truck while packing for the weekend camping trip.
I now maintain lists for camping (tent and RV), general traveling, shooting at the range, each type of hunting and fishing, even trips with the kids to go swimming!
For those like my friend and editor, Mark Fike, pained by the very thought of even owning a phone, there’s hope! A good ol’ pen, paper, and filing cabinet can still grant you access into the efficient sportsman’s club (not actually real, sorry).
After the initial investment of time, be prepared to enjoy the benefits of stress-free packing with substantial time-savings. With all of the time that you will save, you can dedicate more of yourself to the things that matter!