Just sitting around waiting for hunting seasons to begin? We have some ideas for keeping you busy until it does. Steve Hickoff photo
By Steve Hickoff
Chances are you last hunted this past winter, fall or spring. In summer, it’s time to look ahead all over again. Plan for fall hunts now — June, July and August will pass faster and you’ll be back in the woods before you know it.
If you haven’t hunted deer since last fall, waterfowl since the winter months, or turkeys since spring, chances are you’re out of shape. Walk. Run road races. Join a softball team or hoops league. Hunting out west or mountainous cover back east later this year? Walk or run with a backpack. Ride that Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side to work those four-wheeling muscles too.
Tip 1: Start slowly and build yourself into shape. The worse thing is to get a nagging injury to set you back.
Tip 2: If you hunt with dogs, take care to bring them along slowly. My bird dogs that see time afield in fall and winter are full of energy right after spring turkey season ends since they’ve been left at home. It’s important to bring them back with light to moderate exercise. Walks, short runs, retrieving sessions, even time at local preserves with planted upland birds, can satisfy both of you.
Contact landowners and renew friendships with them. Will they let you put up some trail cameras to scout for whitetails? Are they planting crops now that once cut might draw migrating waterfowl later? It’s also never too early to think about the spring 2013 turkey season.
Tip 1: Don’t just take, give back — offer to help with the chores around the landowner’s place. Mend fences. Insist on helping them out. Most of my rural landowner contacts are older men and women. Go beyond just using their land. Build a positive relationship. Offer some assistance.
Tip 2: Aim to talk to several new landowners a week on the chances of opening up new land for hunting this fall and beyond. It’s often easier to approach them in summer, rather than when the season is bearing down. If the answer to your request for hunting access is a flat “no,” thank them politely for their consideration. Ask that they contact you if their mind changes. It sometimes does.
Conduct a gear inventory — apparel, loads, shotguns, rifles, etc. Do you need a new deer hunting jacket or a case of waterfowl loads? Clean your firearms and make sure all are in working order at the local range. Prepare now to hunt later. Once the season starts, you’re often too busy to catch up.
Tip 1: If you’re like me, shotgun shells can be found in original cases and boxes, but others are scattered in field vests, jackets and plastic bags. Take a fine-point black permanent marker and label slightly worn-off information on shotgun hulls, especially shot sizes.
Tip 2: Check hunting regulations for the states you’ll spend time in, especially those you drive to on road trips. Print out hard copies to carry along in your truck for quick reference, including checking station lists, phone-in game registration numbers, etc. Sure, you can access this with your smart phone, but a quick hard copy reference is also handy.
September is almost here. Make it come faster by staying busy until then.