Waking up

Before I close my eyes every night during turkey season, I ask myself how much sleep I’ll get — or not get. I look at the time as I set the alarm and do a quick countdown to my wake-up call. If I need to get close to a bird the next morning, the routine goes something like this:

3:25 a.m.: wake up

4 a.m.: leave house

4:30 a.m.: park truck and get gear out

4:40 a.m.: leave truck to hike in

5 a.m.: arrive at the blind

5:05 a.m.: sit motionless

5:25 a.m.: expected first gobble

5:35 a.m.: twilight

6:05 a.m.: sunrise

That might seem like a rigid schedule, but those early mornings are critical for consistent success. When you’re seeking a Grand or Super Slam, you must take advantage of every minute of legal hunting time.

If I get to bed at my usual time of 11:30 p.m., I get about four hours of sleep per night during turkey season, and I’m happy with that. Remember that your driving and hiking times drastically affect your sleep time.

I can’t stand being one minute late, so when deciding between sleeping 15 more minutes or getting up earlier, I always choose to wake up earlier just in case. That being said, I’ve fallen asleep countless times after getting set up only to be awoken by a gobbler that’s excited to get his day started.

Although everyone needs different amounts of sleep, I think hunters need far less when doing what we love. I’m fortunate because I get to scout, guide and hunt from late February to late May. During that time, I average about four hours of sleep each night, and that’s easy for me because it’s my routine and it’s all I’ve ever known. For hunters who go with me, I recommend a midday nap to recharge their batteries.

Jeff Budz

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