Always keep your firearms in top shape and they'll be ready for hunting season, whenever it comes.
With proper maintenance techniques, your firearms will outlast you, and your skills and familiarity with them will only increase.
If you follow these four guidelines, your firearms will be ready for opening day.
1. Practice makes perfect
Too many hunters only bring their weapons out during hunting season, or maybe right before. If you don't practice, how will you live up to your accuracy potential?
Make sure you practice all shots from realistic hunting stances, and not just the steadiness of a shooting bench or sandbag. Oh, and consider a year-round game animal, like Texas hogs, and you'll never really have to put your gun away at all!
2. Keep that group tight
Sight in your weapon at whatever realistic ranges you will be hunting at. Hunt in thick cover? Forget sighting in at 200 yards, and try to hone in your rest-to-shoulder movement.
Each time you transport your gun, consider it in need of another sighting in before any real hunting can begin.
Don't let an off-kilter scope be the reason you missed that shot.
3. Always store your firearms clean
I'd bet there are more fine weapons that have been destroyed by neglect than lost to thieves. Buy a quality gun cleaning kit that matches the caliber or gauge of your weapon, and don't skimp on the solvents and supplies.
A good cleaning solvent will cut through the left over gun powder residue left in your weapon's barrel and action. That residue attracts moisture, which leads to rust, so it's a necessity if you want your guns to last.
Use a lightly oiled gun cleaning patch to run down the inside of the barrel, and a oiled cloth wipe on metal surfaces. That should be the routine at the end of every hunt, and it will keep things in order the next time you open your gun case.
4. Safe, secure and humidity free
Weapons stored in transport gun cases can rust if they're left that way and exposed to the elements. And if your guns are left unprotected in the back of a closet, well, you've got some serious issues to take care of.
You don't want humidity or prying hands to reach your guns, so do your self a favor. Buy a quality, lockable gun cabinet and complete it with a cabinet dehumidifier.