The summer is over and hunting season is drawing ever closer, but with the approach comes the longest and most unbearable part of the wait for passionate hunters. For many of us, opening day is like Christmas morning, and while that day is still a few weeks away for both bowhunters and rifle enthusiasts, chances are, if you’re a die-hard hunter, you’ve already done a few things to get ready for the festivities. We’ve compiled 10 indicators that you can use as a checklist for knowing you are all ready to go for opening day.
1. You’ve completed the necessary paperwork:
This one may sound basic, but hunters do occasionally forget – or procrastinate – when it comes to securing the proper legal documentation for hunting. There’s nothing worse than waking up on the first day of hunting season only to realize that you haven’t gone through the governmental process of getting your hunting license. Even worse, if you don’t get out in front of the licensing gauntlet early, you may miss a quota, break an application deadline, or fail to get your name in a raffle. So head over to your state’s Department of Natural Resources website and figure out what exactly you need to do to have that license in hand when you step out of your front door on the morning of opening day.
2. You’ve already gotten the day off work:
Opening day of hunting season is a celebratory ritual for hunters everywhere, and making sure pesky little distractions like your job don’t get in the way of you participating is an important early step to take. If you’ve been at the same job for a few years – or have a couple co-workers that hunt as well – then your boss probably already expects you to take the day off. Just make sure you request the time off early to make sure you aren’t scheduled to give a big presentation or go on a major business trip that week.
In addition, if you are planning on taking your child out hunting with you, give their teachers a heads up that they won’t be in class that day. You can always call them in the morning of, but it’s easy to forget things in the excitement of the day.
3. You’ve gotten your child’s apprentice license:
Speaking of taking your kids out with you on opening day, if that’s something you want to do, remember that they need proper documentation as well. Apprentice licenses are inexpensive and fairly easy to get in most state, so you might as well kill two birds with one stone and finish the paperwork while you are on the DNR site purchasing your own license.
4. You’ve scouted your usual hunting spots:
If you have a few go-to hunting locations, it’s worth taking a Sunday sometime in the summer or early fall to scout those spots and take stock of everything from bedding areas to the status of your tree stands or blinds. You don’t want to drive an hour to your key hunting property on the morning of opening day only to find that your stand has been damaged, or worse, that all of the deer in the area have moved out.
5. You’ve spent the summer taking inventory of your deer properties with trail cameras:
In the same spirit of scouting and taking stock of your key hunting properties, you are certainly ready for hunting season if you had the foresight to position a few trail cameras around your favorite hunting property during the summertime. If you swear by trail cameras, chances are you’ve already used your photos to take inventory of the deer you may or may not wish to hunt throughout the season. If you’ve already picked out your target buck, you’re definitely ahead of the curve.
6. You’ve built or repaired your blind or tree stand:
If you’ve moved to a new area or discovered a new hunting property in the past year, then you will need new blinds and tree stands for your first day in the field. If you’re returning to a property you’ve hunted for a decade, you may need to make a few repairs to your blinds and tree stands from years past. You will rest easier on the eve of hunting season if you know your locations are ready to go for opening day.
7. You’ve asked permission to hunt on your favorite properties:
You can skip this step if you primarily hunt public areas, but if your favorite stand-by hunting locations are situated on private property, it is polite to reaffirm the land owner’s permission to hunt those areas. Chances are, if you’ve gotten permission in the past, you will get it again, but it’s good to always have your bases covered prior to the start of hunting season. After all, the season is too short as it is: you don’t want to spend half of it looking for a new place to hunt after your neighbor decides to adopt a no-rifle policy.
8. You’ve practiced with your weapon and made sure that everything is in working order:
Whether you purchased a new compound bow and needed to give it a test run or just have to give your rifle a customary inspection, making sure your weapon is ready to go for the morning of opening day is one of the steps that many hunters run through repeatedly as their excitement for hunting season reaches a fever pitch. As far as opening day catastrophes are concerned, a broken gun is right up there with a lack of license.
9. You are all stocked up on warm clothing and other hunting gear:
Hunting clothes take a lot of wear and tear in any given season, so if you’ve spent a day shopping for new gear, then that’s a surefire sign you are ready for hunting season to get underway. Whether you are purchasing a new jacket or replenishing your supply of scent control, a full gear arsenal will make your hunting season that much more pleasurable.
10. You’ve reviewed hunting journal entries from previous years:
If you’ve hit this step, then chances are you just can’t get hunting off the brain. If you’ve been keeping a hunting journal for a few years, take a look back at your records from the first days of hunting seasons gone by. Doing so will allow you to formulate a plan for exactly how you want your opening day hunt to go. You may change your plans, but that’s part of the fun.