From getting in shape to scouting to tuning up gear, summer is the time to prepare for fall’s hunting adventures
GET INTO GEAR
Anticipation is half the fun of hunting, and finding an excuse to tinker with your gear and otherwise prepare for the forthcoming season is a great way to fuel that anticipation.
Dig out all your hunting clothes and give them the once-over. Repair broken zippers, replace lost buttons and sew up any tears before they get worse. Then wash everything using scent-free detergent, especially if you didn’t do that at the end of the previous season (in which case, everything’s been stewing in a mix of scents you don’t want to be emitting as you sneak up on your buck). For heavy jackets and other outwear, opt for a laundromat with it’s much bigger appliances. Once they’re clean and dry, store your clothes in sealed bags or containers so they don’t pick up foreign scents.
Oil or otherwise waterproof your boots. Leather, in particular, becomes dry and cracked if not maintained properly, shortening the lifespan of your favourite footwear. If it’s time for new boots, buy them early and walk in them regularly. While you’re hunting isn’t the time to be suffering through the break-in period.
Clean the glass on all of your optical equipment. It’s amazing how smudged lenses and viewfinders become, even when you’re careful about protecting them. While you’re at it, check that the base and ring screws on all your firearms are tight—a loose scope can be worse than no scope at all. Use a torque-driver for this chore, adhering to the recommended settings most scope manufacturers provide. Otherwise, you risk over-tightening and/or stripping the screws.
Blade sharpening is fast becoming a lost art. It takes time and practice, so put in the effort during summer to ensure your knives are ready for the fall. There are numerous sharpening options on the market, from old-fashioned stones and steels to electronic sharpeners. All work, so pick one and learn to use it well. A properly sharpened knife, with just the occasional touch-up, will effectively clean and dress all the game you’re likely to shoot in the fall. A dull blade, however, is guaranteed to leave you frustrated as you struggle to get the job done.
Hunting has gone high-tech, with electronics a big part of today’s equipment. GPS units, trail cameras, rangefinders, flashlights, illuminated scopes and more rely on well-charged batteries to ensure they don’t fail in the field. Save the heartache and swap out or recharge all your batteries before the season gets underway. For the few bucks it costs me, I’ve gotten into the habit of putting fresh batteries in all my devices each year, even when I’m sure they’ve got plenty of life left. It’s cheap insurance.
Well before the opener, assemble and restock the gear you take on every hunt. Here I’m talking about first-aid kits, survival gear, game-cleaning supplies, toilet paper and the like. I have the same must-have gear stowed in my various hunting packs, so when I select one for a day’s hunt, I don’t have to worry about packing the essentials.
If you’re like me, you dump your waterfowl decoys back into their bag at the end of each season, promising you’ll attend to them before the next fall rolls around. The trick is to avoid having to replace stakes and anchors, fix rigging lines and look for touch-up paint the night before your hunt. Make this the year your decoys are ready when you are. (For more decoy tips, see www.outdoorcanada.ca/decoycare.)
Finally, ensure all ATVs, winches, boats, outboard motors and trailers are functioning properly. Where applicable, change the oil or get a tune-up, and test all lights and other electronics. If you wait until the last minute or, worse, until your equipment fails you on a hunt, you may be hard-pressed to find the necessary parts, let alone a service centre that can quickly get you up and running.