These are important things to remember as hunting season approaches.
If you're not already getting the itch for fall hunting seasons, what have you been doing the last few weeks? Fall is coming and it's coming up fast and soon we'll all be sitting in treestands or making a stalk after that big buck or bull.
But as prepared as you may feel, maybe you just can't shake that feeling you're forgetting something.
With that in mind, here are five big things that could have slipped your mind in the lead-up to hunting season.
Just make sure you haven't forgotten...
1. To buy a hunting license
You've practiced with your bow all summer long in scorching 90-degree heat to get perfect archery groups at 30 yards. You scouted expertly and already have that big buck's early season movements perfectly patterned. Your stand is in place and waiting. You go to bed early the night before the deer season opener in order to get an early start the next day... only to jump out of bed a few seconds later realizing you've totally neglected to buy your tags!
From there it's a mad rush to the nearest 24-hour Walmart and back to the sporting goods department. Of course, no one is working at this late hour (Is there ever someone there?). It takes 20 minutes to get an employee back there, but they aren't trained to use the computer.
As a result, it takes another 30 minutes as multiple late shift employees with zero knowledge of hunting regulations try to figure out exactly how to print your big game tags.
Meanwhile, you end up giving yourself a mild concussion from banging your head on the counter repeatedly in frustration. So much for that restful night's sleep before that early start you had planned for the next day!
Even if you haven't been in this position before, you probably know someone who has. Moral of the story: if you haven't bought it already, do it today on your way home from work, or better yet, do it online and print your temporary license until you get it in the mail. You'll thank me later!
2. To sight in your gun or bow
Maybe you're the exact opposite of the person who forgot their license. You have your tags and treestands all set up and you're ready to go. Except you somehow neglected to check your rifle, muzzleloader or bow in the run up to deer hunting season, and it's now nearly 8 p.m. the night before the opener.
Sighting in a gun, especially if it's brand new and hasn't been shot yet, can take a good amount of time. Devote yourself to having no doubts about your equipment's setup.
3. To wash your hunting clothing
Oops. Somehow in all the excitement of the coming season dates, you've managed to neglect giving your hunting clothing a good wash. They can't smell all that bad, can they?
Sure, you wore them out fishing for catfish at the river on the hottest day of the year last month, but deer won't be disturbed by the combined smell of stinky cheese doughballs, sweat and stale beer that is now baked into your favorite hunting pants, right?
Wrong. You know how strong a skunk can be? That's basically what a deer will think of you and your scent. You've got to mask your scent no matter what, and washing hunting clothes with the proper detergent goes a long way.
Don't be the guy at hunting camp who forgot this step, or you'll be sabotaging everyone else.
4. To do any preseason scouting
We get it, the summer is a busy time of year. Between work, BBQ cook outs, parades, fireworks celebrations, fishing, cooking and camping, there isn't a whole lot of time for anything else. It's very easy to forget looking into exactly what's going on in that new hunting area you located at the end of last season.
But no worries, I'm sure there's no harm into walking the local wildlife management area the day before archery season opens and taking two hours to noisily set up a brand-new ladder stand close to a major bedding area.
Didn't get a chance to walk that public hunting area before the season? That's ok, just get out there at last light and hastily construct a rough ground blind as the sun is going down.
On opening morning, don't worry about that other angry hunter whose stand you totally missed seeing only 50 yards away last night because it was dark. They totally don't mind. After all, it's public land. Sharing is caring right?
If you're a waterfowl hunter, you can just park your boat anywhere and fill your bag limit of migratory birds like teal right? Game birds like snipe, woodcock and pheasants are easy to find and shoot. It surely doesn't take any skill to find and get your season limit of upland birds. Right?
Hopefully you sensed the sarcasm...
5. To buy new or replacement gear
Maybe your favorite pair of hunting boots started leaking right at the end of the late antlerless deer season. You meant to buy a new pair between the end of deer and the beginning of wild turkey season, but somehow, you've totally forgot all about it.
Now, it's the day before deer season and you realize you still have the same pair of leaky boots. Oh, and there was a record amount of rainfall this past spring and your favorite stand is flooded with a foot of water.
Well, guess you're doomed to at least one hunt with soggy feet.
Now you'll have to pay full price instead of sale price and you'll be forced to break in a new pair of boots during the prime part of the season. That'll teach you to put off the purchase of new gear again!
In all seriousness, these are five things that seem like they should be obvious. However, sometimes, with all the things we do in our daily lives, it's easy for this stuff to get lost in the shuffle and forgotten about until it's too late.
We're hoping this list at least got you thinking about what you still need to do before the seasons start.
No matter if you're into small game hunting, turkey hunting or big game like deer, elk and bear hunting, we hope everyone has a safe and productive season!