If you have read this column (probably by mistake) prior your husband or boyfriend, here is a fun little test that will determine the procrastination factor of your Significant Other. Simply turn away from your phone or computer and say out loud “Wow, did you realize deer season is less than two weeks away?”
If the Man of the House simply grunts and returns to picking his toenails, he has already performed the hundreds of tasks necessary to prepare for a successful deer season. He is also probably lying. The other, more typical and truthful response is for the man to leap straight into the air in the manner of an electrocuted badger and start a frenzy of unorganized organization.
While hunters have been pursuing deer with bow and arrow since the start of this month, their numbers are significantly less than the hordes of people who will descent upon the woodlands on November 18 for the beginning of the firearms seasons. For avid deer hunters, opening day is a social event far more important than all national holidays and most funerals.
Every year, I promise myself that opening morning will find me in a good stand with the right gear and a clean, sighted-in weapon. What really happens is that I end up frantically running around Friday afternoon before the season starts, pinning up targets on the firing range with chewed gum and a pocket knife at dusk while trying to remember where my binoculars were stored.
As the deer season is quickly approaching, I’ll propose we all do something totally wild and whacky: actually be prepared for opening day!
For starters, the biggest, most important yet overlooked chore is weapons maintenance. Too often hunters simply pull their gun from the closet or rack, blow the dust off and think they are ready to hunt. No matter the type of weapon, ethics demand that you are proficient with your firearm. This far out from the season you have plenty of time and decent weather so there are no excuses not to spend at least an hour or two on the range to re-sharpen those perishable shooting skills and verifying the gun is still up to the task.
If you use a tree stand, check that all of the mechanical parts are present and safe, any nylon webbing is in good repair and the welds are sound. While you have the time, purchase a few spare nuts and bolts so that when you drop some tiny but important part on a dark morning, you can still hunt. If you use a permanent stand, check to see that squirrels have not used it as a tooth and gum exerciser.
Take an evening to gather all your hunting clothes and make any repairs that were put off last year. Once they’re shipshape, pack them for a couple of weeks in leaves or in a scent bag to prevent that wise old buck from winding you.
Along with clothing, pay attention to your boots. Leather footwear should be cleaned and re-waterproofed before rambling through creeks and swamps in pursuit of whitetails. Don’t forget that wax- and oil-based leather dressings smell like a petroleum refinery so make sure your boots are aired-out several weeks before opening day. Even rubber boots might need repairs and a good cleaning never hurts.
Small miscellaneous gear has an annoying tendency to scatter to the four winds after the season. I’ve found my camouflage head net under the kitchen sink, the field-dressing knife in my wife’s sewing basket and the grunt call retired to the paint shelf in the garage.
Gathering all these items ahead of time will allow you to take stock and replace those things that have gone missing-in-action during the previous 11 months. Once your hunting backpack is packed and ready, consider it untouchable so that the gremlins don’t start toddling off with your things.
One of the hallmarks of a serious deer hunter is the fact that he scouts year-round. He knows each deer in the area, their size and habits and probable political leanings. Other hunters may have stalked the same woods for many years and can virtually guarantee where a buck will be standing on opening morning.
If you don’t fall into either category, the next two weeks would be a good time to thoroughly scouting your hunting area. If you wait until later, you run the risk of contaminating the area with scent and spooking deer that could have otherwise become a resident of your freezer.
Above all, don’t fall into the same old trap this year. Quit procrastinating and seize the day so that the only reason you can’t sleep on the night before deer season is simple excitement.
Personally, I’m going to get started on all my preparations just as soon as I return these overdue library books.