Typically, as I offload my packs and gear at the end of one particular hunting season, I am simultaneously re-packing and organizing for the next hunt (which is never far behind). I am changing calls, optics, and essentials; I am switching out from shotgun to rifle to bow; I am packing licenses, ONYX maps and whatever else I need. But, Turkey hunting season is over, and I am now looking at my dog, Thaddeus, who seems somewhat despondent himself, “Is he getting fat?” (I am quite certain he is thinking the same about me when I am not looking). We sit looking at each other and ticking off the days as we plan how to prep for the hunting season to come…
Anyway, there are quite a few things hunters should consider when prepping for hunting season:
- This is a great time to comb through your hunting pack. Check to see everything is present and accounted for. Also replace aging items. Check how your locks are doing (Mossberg has a sturdy Cable Lock), check the integrity of your backpack and the pockets, check expiration dates on any medications, etc… I have found that the contents of my pack can change dramatically over the course of the year.
- Clean your firearms. All of them. It’s a great time to really sit down and look them over. I don’t know about you, but it isn’t until I do this that I discover something like chewed up gummy bear on my waterfowl stock. This is a good time to clean off any gunk on your slings and cases too. If your slings are looking a little rough, Mossberg has a variety of slings available. Likewise, tune up and clean up your bow. I post this out of guilt as my bow looks pretty grimy right now.
- This tip falls into a list of compulsive habits, but I find it very valuable. I do indeed pencil in the opening and closing dates of all local hunting that I plan to do. This includes big game, small game, birds, and any predators. Not only does it help me plan better, it lets me know which Denver Broncos games I will attend.
- Start looking for ammunition sales. It really does make it easier just to grab and go for quick hunting expeditions.
- Perfect time to organize all of your packing and camping equipment. Run through all of your gear. Use the JetBoils. Make sure the water filter works. Check inflatable sleeping pads. Again, check your cases and bags- look for holes, rips, and other undesirable things. I’ve found that Mossberg has a good variety of cases. If you pack in via horseback, check your pack equipment and panniers. Make sure all straps and cinches are looking good. Treat the leather and make sure everything is in good condition. All of this will help you avoid a high-country rodeo and ensure your camping experience is a good one.
- Pull out all of your optics. Clean the binos. Check the range finder. Make sure everything is in good working order before you need it. This is a tip that I can confirm would have saved me from missing the elk of a lifetime. A story for another day.
- If you have purchased any new equipment or gear, use it. Practice with it. Become well versed in its use. Again, practice does make perfect. Nothing is worse than fumbling around with a new gadget during the moment of truth.
- Practice! Whether you shoot firearms or a bow, practice. Practice from various distances, angles and positions. And most definitely practice on shooting sticks if you plan to use them.
- Get in shape. While there is no simple solution for this, it is so very important. Be prepared to hike, climb, and pack an animal out. It only takes one season of NOT being prepared to know you will never, ever do that again.
- Check your calls. Make sure they are functional. If you use diaphragms for calling, make sure they are not disgusting. If they are, save yourself the embarrassment and throw them away. For the love of God and all things Holy. Go on out and get some clean ones that wouldn’t be flagged as a haz-mat problem.
So there it is. I have been cast adrift in the hunting Doldrums and am impatiently waiting for the winds to change. It seems I will continue to mouth-breathe my way into fall and continue my ever increasing Doldrum activities until that time. Until then… I shall complete my pre-season checklists as I tick off the days on my calendar.