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The right preparation is critical to any successful hunting trip, whether you’re heading out on an African safari or high-country backpacking expedition. Read on for tips on preparing for the hunt of a lifetime!

Pack Wisely: Find out whether you’ll need enough clothes to last your entire trip or if there are laundry facilities or services available. Follow your outfitter’s recommendations as well as our Essential Gear List. Don’t over-pack, but do be prepared for various conditions and situations. Make a list, and triple-check that you have everything on it before departing!

Get in Shape: As much as reasonably possible, try to re-create the conditions you’ll experience during your hunt. If you’ll be trekking through mountainous regions, do as much high-altitude hiking as you can while you’re still close to home. Carry a pack filled with the gear you’ll spike out with during your trip. Hunting on horseback? Get in the saddle a few times before you travel—it will toughen up your seat and help cut down on the inevitable soreness you’ll feel during your trip. Regardless of whether you’re able to re-create the actual conditions, the single best way you can prepare for your hunt is to be in peak physical condition. Get out and walk (hilly, non-paved areas are best, but walking anywhere will help a great deal), carrying a pack and wearing the boots you’ll hunt with, if possible. Eat well and get plenty of rest prior to your trip. You can also check out this Field and Stream article for more tips on physical-fitness prep.

Know Thyself: Physical conditioning is vital to any successful hunt, but it’s also important to prepare mentally beforehand. Take time to consider your goals for your upcoming trip. It’s quite likely you’ve spent a great deal of money as well as time, energy, and resources to embark on this adventure. What will make it successful for you? Will you be satisfied with the experience alone, regardless of whether you take a trophy? If not, how big an animal do you want to harvest? Does it matter whether it’s a male or female? Are there other animals you hope to harvest in addition to your target animal? How long are you prepared to spend in search of your animal? Knowing the answers to these questions—and communicating them to your outfitter—will help you get the most out of your trip.

Be One with Your Gun (or Bow): No matter your weapon, before you go, practice, practice, practice! Head to the range and run through different shooting positions at varying distances with rapid reloading and firing sequences. Don’t forget to have your weapon cleaned, inspected, and calibrated prior to a hunt.

Know Before You Go: Invest in quality, airline-approved, locking, hard-sided cases to ensure the safe, secure transporting of your equipment, and be sure to familiarize yourself with the TSA’s guidelines regarding airline travel with firearms. You can visit this Sports Afield article for information and guidance on this topic. Also, remember that there are also weapons laws in each country, state, or locality that you may need to abide by as well. (We’ll make sure you know what firearms laws you’ll be expected to abide by during your travels.)

Gather Paperwork: Be sure you have all the proper licenses, tags, permits, and other paperwork you’ll need to tote weapons into (and out of) your destination, hunt legally while there, and get your game home safely. Each country has its own requirements; we’ll help you with what you need for your specific hunt. Don’t forget that you’ll need a valid passport and any other necessary forms of ID required for foreign and/or airline travel. If you don’t have a passport, allow for plenty of time to obtain one before your trip.

Make Travel Arrangements: We work in partnership with trusted, local travel agencies whose agents help us navigate gun permits, secure transportation arrangements, and explore lodging options. Our dedicated travel team has managed hundreds of big-game hunting travel itineraries and possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in safe, successful hunting-related travel to foreign countries. We highly recommend you obtain trip insurance to protect yourself against unforeseen delays or cancellations.

Protect Your Health: You’ll want to get any and all daily medications filled well before your trip. It’s also wise to obtain a full physical from your primary care physician. Be sure to let your doctor know where you are headed and why. He or she may provide you with certain medications, such as antimalarials or antibiotics, in case you should need them, and can advise you of and/or provide you with any necessary vaccines in advance of your departure. It’s also very important that you contact your medical insurer to advise them of your impending travel and inquire as to coverage in your destination country. You may need to purchase a rider to ensure adequate coverage during your trip. If you have any medical conditions or allergies, discuss them with your outfitter in advance.

Remember, our job here at J&M Safaris is to ensure you have a successful and enjoyable hunting experience. We’re here to guide you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to ask us for more specific guidance regarding any facet of your trip.