As the summer starts to wind down, anticipation for hunting season grows. I cannot wait to get out this year. I’ve got a few hunts planned, and a few more where I’m sitting on-deck. I have a feeling it’ll be a pretty fruitful year. When I first started getting into hunting, a good buddy told me something that has continued to ring true: hunting ain’t cheap, so take care of your stuff. I did a post a while back about post-season gun care, and since it’s all been hibernating all summer, it’s time to wake it up.
The whole point of preseason work is that you won’t have to worry about any of this as you prepare for your first hunt. Dove Season opens in Georgia in less than a month, followed by quail season shortly thereafter, then the ducks should be flying…so it’s time to get busy. Here is what I like to do well in advance of my first hunt:
1. Gun Maintenance. This is as important as anything. Take a Sunday afternoon and give all your guns a good thorough cleaning, oiling, and general rub down. Make sure all the pins are clean, and the chokes are ready to perform. O/U users: don’t forget to grease all the hinges. I like to carry a Silicone Cleaning Cloth, and give all my guns a good rub down as a last step before I put them back in the safe. The silicone cleans and protects wood, metal, and plastic, and works well for me.
2. Gear Check. If you are like me, you have bins full of gear for all sorts of hunting. Brush pants, weird camo stuff, shirts, sweaters, socks, thermals, jackets, etc. The point here is to go through each piece and ensure a couple things: 1. Does it still fit? If not, dump it. 2. Does it still function? If not, either repair it or dump it. In this case, think about laces, buttons, fasteners, zippers, etc. Anything that would be super annoying if it was broken or non-functional in the field. 3. Is everything clean and ready to go? If not, wash it. Having everything primed and ready makes any hunt prep so much easier.
3. Fill in the Holes. This is the fun part. After a thorough gear check, you will notice that there are a few things that need to be replaced. Buy smart. Whether it’s a new shooting sweater, shooting gloves, or a new pair of brush pants, don’t wait until the night before you are leaving on a quail hunt to get what you need.
4. Re-clean and Waterproof your Boots. The reality is that your hunting boots have probably been living in a closet for the past six months. While this isn’t necessarily bad, especially if you cleaned and oiled them before hibernation, give them a good conditioning once over, and slather them with a coat of waterproofing wax. I prefer to use Obenauf’s, which is a beeswax that works extremely well. Give them a good lather and then hit them with a hair dryer to help it soak in. You’ll be really glad you did after a few steps through a wet and muddy field. Think about it, boots – usually Russell Moccasins for me – and your field jacket are the two most expensive pieces of hunting clothing you own. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.
5. Stock up on Shells. I started doing this a couple years ago and it has actually saved me a lot of money. I go to cheaperthandirt.com and stock up on the shells I know I’ll need. While buying by the case is a little more expensive up front, it does make the per-shell cost much cheaper, and you don’t have to worry about buying ones/twos boxes of shells before a hunt. This is the Costco model, and it works.
6. Get your Licenses in Order. I re-up my annual license every year, so I’m covered in Georgia. I do have some hunting and fishing scheduled in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina, so I’ll need to make sure I know what the requirements are there. The good news here is that most states have adopted an online option, which is as easy as downloading an app and doing the deed.
7. Share your Schedule(!). Most importantly: coordinate with your better half. There is literally nothing worse you can do than spring a hunt on her last minute. The more notice, the more grace. Just remember that. And it’s also not a bad idea to pay it forward here…do something nice for her while she is home watching the kids and managing the house. It will extend your hunting lifespan infinitely.
Those are my preseason activities. What did I miss? Anything you do to get ready for the hunts?