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Ready to hunt? Get a game plan
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J.L. Roach is a soldier at Fort Stewart with a passion for hunting. He plans to write hunting columns for us. Let us know what you think of his column.
“The area you have selected is full.”
If you have not reached this message then you haven’t hunted on Fort Stewart in awhile. If you’re trying to pick a hunting area and the number of hunters currently signed into the plot gives you a heart attack or keeps you home working on the honey-do-list, have no fear. There are options.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
You could take your chances and head out at 4:30 a.m. just to beat the next guy to the spot of your choice. Or you could follow my tips to reduce your stress and leave enough room in the woods for game.

1. Plan
Plan everything far enough in advance to not get any surprises. Know where you want to hang your stand, place your decoy and park your truck. With technology at your finger tips, it is easy and cheap these days to do a little research.
Before the season begins, I always scope out Google Earth. Google Earth can show you some updated imagery of Fort Stewart. With its zoom feature, you can look for small openings far enough off the road that other lazy hunters probably won’t venture into. If you look at the training maps on Fort Stewart’s pass and permit Web site, you’ll see that some of the open areas are huge — some averaging 3,500 to 4,000 acres.
2. Hunt together
Usually when I’m out hunting, I notice most of us hunt in pairs. This is safe and helpful in case you need help getting your catch back to the truck. Blind hunting is a popular style of hunting and it’s taking the sport to a new level.
During the past few years, the blind has become a hunter’s necessity. With more than 50 companies producing 20 models each — all between $30 to $500 bucks — there are plenty to pick from. It doesn’t matter if you hunt with a bow or with firearms — they make blinds for you.
Don’t worry about scent control. There are also scent block blinds with black-out windows so you can shoot through and move around inside the blind.

3. Call in advance
If you are not familiar with the automated pass and permit system, you should know that you are allowed to sign in a day before you will be hunting. You are only limited to one area at a time but you may get the upper hand in gaining access to the area where the big boys play.
Do be aware that a lot of hunters do this already so don’t be surprised if there are 12 others already signed in when you go to add your name.  

4. Use the road
I know what you’re thinking — you can’t use the road to hunt off of unless you’re asking for trouble. But use the road to look for animals that have been hit by cars. Think about it. Hogs and deer must cross roads to get to bedding areas, food, water and their ruts, so check the shoulders and nearby wooded areas.
Stop and look for game trails. You never know where game trails lead and you might get lucky enough to find one that takes you to an open hunting area.
With many would-be hunters deployed, you never know which areas will be full and which ones will be wide open, but you do know hunters will set up regardless. So use these tips in the woods and remember to talk, talk and talk. You can get pointers about different areas by chatting with each other. Happy hunting. I’ll see you in the woods!
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