With the open waterfowl seasons fast approaching, now is the time to ready your gear. We all have good intensions to get everything done early but too often the reality is most of us wait until the last minute. Let’s change that this season and be fully prepared when opening day arrives.
If you hunt from a boat, make sure everything is in working order
Sounds easy enough but if everything was working fine at the end of last season don’t assume that it still is. This especially applies to batteries. If they are not in use often they can go south on you in a hurry. Marine batteries are expensive so a good investment is a battery maintainer. These are chargers that you can hook to the battery when not in use that emits a small trickle charge to ensure your battery does not go completely dead.
Making sure your outboard is in good working order is a must. Fuel tanks and fuel lines must be checked as well, plastic and rubber never last forever. Make time to get on the water and give everything a thorough test run. The last thing you want to happen is to discover a problem in the dark or a long way from the ramp. If you have a boat blind, check all of the parts so there are no surprises such as a broken hinge or strap when you raise it up on your first hunt.
Clean your shotgun
Ideally it was cleaned and oiled before it was stored. And many of them have been put back into action during the early goose, teal, and dove seasons. Autoloading shotguns are in the field more than ever before and while they are much more reliable than those of years past, they still must be maintained. Break them down, use a good action cleaner to remove the fouling, put a light coat of oil where needed and get out and hunt.
Check your gear
Time and use is going to put wear and tear on your blind bag, shotgun case, ect. Check the buckles, straps, and the material on all of your accessories. If it is time for new gear, many innovations have come along in the past few years so equipment is better than ever.
Tune up your dog
For those of us that hunt with retrievers, even the veteran dogs need to be refreshed before the season. Plus most of them are out of shape from loafing around all summer. Well, so are a lot of us! The big training point that most dogs need is control, both in steadiness and at heel. It is easy for these commands to erode once the guns start blazing and the birds are falling. Get your dog out and simulate some hunts as close as you can. You may have to put down your gun on the early hunts to make sure obedience is solid. I know this is hard to do but no one wants to hunt with a dog out of control.
So when the north winds are blowing and the mornings are crisp, a little planning will go a long way to hassle free hunts this fall and winter.