While it may still be summer, don’t be fooled. Fall hunting season is approaching faster than you think. Yes, the time is now to go through your hunting gear and get it sorted out so you will be prepared for a successful season. Actually, there’s more to it than just going through your gear. You’ve got to take care of yourself, too.
Depending on where exactly you are in this vast nation your hunting scenario might be as simple as sitting on your front porch or as complicated as a multi-day horseback high country excursion. Either way, you need to prepare yourself accordingly for whatever your hunt may bring.
Time Changes Everything: Get In Shape for the Hunt
Youth can carry you farther than you can imagine when it comes to endurance, but once the youth fades and your arms start getting shorter, even short jaunts afoot can really take it out of you. I used to scoff at the older hunters I would see who practically drove their ATV to the tree stand and right up to their harvest if they were so lucky. Nowadays I look at the prospect of hiking into a hunt and packing out as a daunting task. Middle age, if you aren’t fighting against it, means your stamina has likely faded, along with your overall strength. Toby Keith may have sung, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was”, but the cold hard truth is sustained effort needed on a hunt can absolutely wreck the unprepared.
If you find that you’ve been rather sedentary as of late, get off your duff and start moving. Walk around the neighborhood, join a bargain gym for a few months, go hiking on the weekends-- do something now to get the heart pumping and the legs moving. Even if your hunting is “low-impact” you never know when an emergency will call on all of your faculties on the hunt.
Hunting Gear Inspection!
Go through your gear and make sure everything is in good working order now. This has always been good advice as fortune favors the prepared, but given the highly irregular nature of today’s retail market, getting an order in for a needed piece of equipment NOW rather than a few days before the season starts is imperative. In general, it is just a bad idea to try to replace a busted whatever right before you need it, but today it is a fool's errand to drive to each and every sporting goods store in town trying to hunt down a new XYZ. You may get lucky and find one, or you may strike out and waste half a day running all over town. Take a careful inventory and inspection NOW to make sure your gear is in top condition for this fall’s season.
Once you’ve inventoried your stock, go through and address any voids in the system. Do you have a good flashlight, do you have a good monocular/binocular, is the First Aid Kit up to snuff, is your pack still holding up, etc. Be sure to address any weak spots in those areas well ahead of the season's start.
Stock Up on Consumables
As you are all painfully aware, ammo availability is tenuous at best. The ammunition manufacturers have been working overtime producing tons of the most commonly consumed ammo to satisfy the demand an (arguably) unstable political environment has created. But, every year about this time the major ammo makers get out the hunting brass to load up for the many various chamberings that are found in rifles here in the states that are only used in hunting rifles. Start looking for this ammo NOW. Yes, it is going to be double the price you paid for it one or two years ago. This is just an unfortunate reality of the economic situation combined with the law of supply and demand. If you need it, you will have to pay for it. That is all there is to the story. If you see your pet 7X57 Mauser, .32-20 WIn, or .45-70 Gov’t round on the shelf and balk at the price-- trust me, someone else will not and it will be at least a year before any more is made available.
Function Check and Zero-In
Make some time to go to the range and verify everything works as it should and that your zero is set. Get your rifle cleaned up and properly lubed. Here in the hot, humid South, it pays to look at each of your guns monthly, if not more frequently, as rust will flash up on any ferrous surface faster than you can belly flop in the creek. Scopes tend not to go bad just by sitting in a gun safe, but are you certain that there wasn’t a big bump or fall at some point? Verify your zero and function of the scope by sending a few rounds downrange. This would also be a good time to swap out a scope if you are not happy with what you are currently using. Swing over to our webstore to peruse all our optics.
If nothing else has resonated with you in this article, be sure to buy or make a first aid kit for your outdoor activities and know how to use it. Bandages, tape, gauze, painkillers, and even treatments such as blood coagulating powders and tourniquets can save a life should the worst-case scenario unfold for you or a fellow hunter. It should also be said that your first aid kit should always be on your person, or in a quick access part of your pack. A first aid kit that is in camp, your truck, or at the bottom of your pack is less than ideal. Be smart with the kit and make sure you replenish the kit as you use its components.
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer is the social media specialist for Axeon Optics.