I thought I would open up this question. I have a pretty good idea what works for me, but it is always interesting to get other views and learn something new.
My gear as a background for my thoughts.
I use pro body Nikon cameras, now I only have Nikon D4 (x2), but a D500 will join my bag in the future. I have owned and experienced some Nikon bodys (D90, D300, D7000, D3, D800) now sold for different reasons. I have a Ricoh GR (compact with APS-C sensor and 28 mm lens) for snapshots.
I have a almost full set up of lenses (50 mm f/1,4 24-70 f/2,8, 70-200 f/2,8, 300mm f/4 PF, 200 mm Micro AF, 600 mm f/4 and TC-1,4 and 2,0). Only lens i´m considering buying in the future is 14-24 f/2,8.
I always work with "backfocus", AF on the thumb button (AF-ON) and not on the shutter. I move around a lot which focus point it is measuring from according to composition.
I always use continous focus.
I almost always use one (singel) focus point. Sometimes I try different focus setting with more helping/active focus points like d21. But to often focus is lost on some pictures because of grass. Only when I photo birds in flight (BIF) I go for all focus points (d51). Obviously landscape I would do with single point AF.
Something I have not experimented with is focus following setting (I use normal - "3"). It would be very interesting with comments and experiences of this.
Mode: I always use manual. And almost always with auto-iso with a maximum setting of 12800 iso. When really dark or when auto iso goes over 6400 I often go to manual iso settings. Obviously shutter times and aperture is on back and front wheel. I always have them preset according to what I expect might happen, but is quick to change when it is action.
Exposure: I use full area exposure measure. I have point measure on the pv button and use it sometimes. But I use exposure compensation all the time.
FN button: On the fn-button I can change to different crop modes, but I never use this. I crop al lot in post.
VR: I use it with care. If possible I turn it of. So basically I use it if I have to go to 1/2 of shutter times / lens length. I almost always use a beanbag (when in a car), which helps stability a lot. I do prioritize short enough shutter time before low iso. Be aware that if you have VR on and put the camera on a hard surface (car frame) then the movements of the VR will make the pictures blurred. Handhold it or use a beanbag. Tripod setting for tripods.
Lens changing: I try to avoid it. On big reasons for 2 or 3 cameras. But I also do sensor cleaning my self, and normal do that a couple of time on a safari trip. I check for dust spots (zoom in on bright pictures) several times daily.
Flash: I don´t use flash on wildlife or birds. Shooting people i sometimes use it, but I don´t even bring a flash on safari.
1) Settings like shutter times and aperture according to what I expect. Focus point center, because of speed and availability to crop in post if necessary.
2) I always work to find what I am looking for. Which means I look for good light, good angles and good background. I choose what place/habitat I am in according to this more than chance of finding an animal. Often if I have a good spot and know animals is/might be around I sit and wait for them to come to me and the good photographic spot.
3) Shot away if something interesting pops-up. Hope for the best.
4) If subject is around for more than a sec, I start thinking of optimizing that picture: I change focus point to make a better composition in frame. I change aperture and shutter time, dependent of action of subject, size of subject (depth of field, DOF) and background. I change exposure compensation. I use 10 frames/s and usually take a few bursts. Even with many exposure there is almost always one or a few that is better than other because of the subjects facial expression, eyes etc.
5) Change camera with different lens, to have another perspective. I more and more work to include more habitat, which means shorter lenses.
6) Start changing my position to get better or new angles, backgrounds etc.
7) I sometimes take several pictures in a panoramic fashion with intention to stich them in post.
8) I sometimes use bracketing on landscape photography, like 5 exposures with 0,7 exp steps.
I think that is it. Developing in post is a much larger knowledge area. Obviously it reflects on how you take a picture, but that could not be covered here.
Once again, I guess my only active question is about the focus following setting. But i´m interested in any reflection and discussion on this topic.