Time = DIY success: a great do-it-yourself hunt depends on many factors, including one in particular.
THE SKILLS and experience we accumulate over time generally comes from our formative years as do-it-yourself bowhunters. We learn as we go. We make our own mistakes. That reality leads to the intense pride we take in the successes we manage as DIY bowhunters. Since this is our DIY Special issue, let's take a quick look at some of the advantages of a DIY hunting plan.
* DIY hunting demands that you do your own research, scouting, and preparation. That might seem like a negative to some, but for many bowhunters those tasks are a huge part of the enjoyment of any hunting excursion. I love that part.
* On most DIY hunts you're probably driving your own hunting truck, which means you can bring all the necessary gear with you, and you can haul your meat and antlers home without the expense of shipping or flying it all home.
* DIY hunting allows the utmost in daily schedule flexibility. You can start your day when you want to, hunt as hard or as slow as you wish, and quit for the day when you desire. You can eat when you want, stop to call to a bull elk when it seems right, or simply sit, listen, or glass as long as you wish. If you need to spend six hours stalking a muley buck, no one is waiting on you. Your entire day is yours to plan and execute, and if you decide to sleep in one morning to recharge, you don't have to make excuses to anyone.
* On a DIY hunt you decide which animal is worthy of your tag. There are no restrictions, fines, or influence from an outfitter or guide. You need only heed the local game laws and--again--make no excuses for the animal you tag.
* Finally, the greatest advantage of a DIY hunt is time. All bowhunters know it often takes several encounters with game before we can make it happen. Most outfitted hunts limit you to five to seven days. While you'll reap the benefits of a guide who knows where and how to hunt, Mother Nature can steal half those days with poor weather conditions. A DIY hunt can be as long as you choose. If you need additional time, only your boss or your spouse need to be consulted. When I started hunting elk in the early 80s, our DIY hunts were never less than 15 or 16 days (two weeks of vacation and weekends). Having that much time to locate elk, find cooperative bulls, get them in bow range, and make the shot, was critical to success. In fact, I believe time is as fundamental to success as physical conditioning and shooting skill.
Do-it-yourself hunting isn't for everyone. If you have limited time or physical ability, an outfitted hunt may be a better choice, and may be the only choice in some locations, such as Canada. Be forewarned though. If you're planning a so-called once-in-a-lifetime DIY hunt and you have a great time, I wouldn't be too sure about the once-in-a-lifetime part.
Caption: If Larry D. Jones is cooking up a scrumptious brunch in your tent after a morning of elk hunting, you know you're on a great DIY hunt.