By Mike Willis
While the average hunter is busy overeating and underachieving, commit yourself to prepare for next year’s success.
After a long hunting season, most people will toss their neglected gear into the corner, preserving its various surprises and complications for opening day of the following season.
For the passionate outdoor enthusiast, hunting is not just a season; it’s a lifestyle!
If you want to set yourself apart from the average hunter, take the time to put the gear away and prep for the upcoming chase properly.
- Clean your guns. After dragging your battle-ax through harsh weather and impossible terrain, make sure that you properly clean and oil the various components to prevent corrosion.
- Clean your gear. Storing gear while it is wet and dirty is a way to guarantee that you have new gear next season. For those who are happy with their current inventory, preserve this gear by properly cleaning, organizing, and storing it.
- Care for your bow. Back the tension off of your bow limbs. Make sure that you do this in equal amounts for each limb and put a note with the bow stating how many “turns” you backed off. Remember to wax the string and lightly oil hardware.
- Clean and oil your boots. Don’t set yourself up to pull dry rotted boots out on opening day.
- Stay in shape! Resist the temptation to kick your feet up and undo everything that you have just accomplished over the past months. Most of us are in the best shape of the year following the hunting season. Keep this momentum and set yourself up for success next year. Rather than sucking wind for your first two weeks in the field, show up conditioned and ready for that turkey to gobble two ridges over.
- If you bait bear, start gathering leftovers for the freezer. During the springtime, bakeries are overwhelmed by the requests for day-olds. By stuffing little bits each day into the freezer, you will ensure that you have a quality barrel come spring.
- Make sure that all mouth calls are cleaned and dry before sealing them in a case. Reed calls can be ruined if not stored properly.
- Wash your hunting clothes and store them with a dirt-scented wafer. Dedicate a closet, tote, or garbage bag for your hunting clothes. Consider throwing some pine and cedar boughs in with them as well.
- If you were fortunate enough to get new gear for Christmas, hang it outside now to begin getting rid of that new smell. Getting new smells out of gear takes a while. Don’t wait until the night before your season starts to discover the scent bomb.
- Before putting everything away, take note of what is in your pack. Establish a good gear list to save time next year.
- Restock depleted supplies. Order ammo, arrows, replacement gear/ parts, scent-free soaps, and deodorants. Hunting season takes a toll on your gear. Things break and get used up. Replace and replenish them now while you still remember!
- Schedule maintenance for the ATV, RV, and the truck. If you have a shop perform maintenance for you, they may have your equipment for a couple of weeks as they progress through their work orders. Now is the time for that. Don’t lose your valuable equipment during the best time of year!
By using a list such as this one, you will save substantial time and money over the years. Additionally, this kind of planning and stewardship will give you momentum at the start of your next season.
Hitting the ground running on opening day will allow you to quickly capitalize on opportunities while others are working through their problems.
Happy New Year!