These are the things you should really avoid the day before the season starts.
The fall is nearly here and that means the start of many hunting seasons will soon be upon us. Whether you prefer small game or big game hunting, these season dates are like Christmas time, only for adults. The prep for these days is part of the fun, and we enjoy preparing far in advance for all the fun and tasty meals the seasons bring.
However, some of us do not prepare as well as others. Let's face it, we have all either gotten behind or have forgotten something on the first day of the season before. There are two things you can do in this situation, adapt and learn from it, or do nothing at all and learn the painful lesson again the following year.
As these critical hunting season dates arrive, here are our top things you should really avoid doing the day before the season opens. These rules apply for a little bit of everything from bobcat, snipe and woodcock to black bears and white-tailed deer.
Selecting a hunting area and scouting properly.
You may be saying to yourself: "Who doesn't do that?" Well, you may be surprised, unless of course you hunt on public land, then you are probably nodding your head in agreement. This can be especially frustrating for archery enthusiasts in the lead-up to firearms deer seasons. There is almost always some yahoo who waits until the last possible second to come in and hastily construct the world's worst ground blind in the last hour of daylight the night before. It's worse when they simply walk to the first rub they see, and set up, not realizing they set up right on top of you, while you were bowhunting. Ugh, way to ruin everyone's deer hunt guys. You seriously had no other time before now to do that?
Not only do you risk ruining someone else's hunt by scouting at the last minute, you are also ruining your own chances too. Odds are great you will blow whatever deer are holding in a spot out of the area, resulting in a likely fruitless sit the next morning.
An even worse scenario is the hunter who doesn't bother to check in and see that those private lands he had access to last year have changed hands since then. Next thing you know, there's a bunch of unintended trespassers there at first light ruining things for everyone. It can also lead to some ugly and unwanted confrontations. Come on guys, a little common courtesy goes a long way. Avoid embarrassment and up your odds of success by doing these things at least a couple months in advance!
Buying a hunting license.
Ever wandered into your local Wal-Mart the night before gun deer hunting season begins? It can get real ugly sometimes. I'll admit, I've had to pick up a few things at the last second before, but it's the last-second license buyers that can annoy everyone. I've seen a few hunters go on incredible tirades simply because they are only learning the night before that there has been a drastic change in the season bag limits or the date for muzzleloader season has been pushed back. Guys, the DNR announced these changes back in May, calm down. It's not our fault you didn't read the book.
Nope, sorry buddy, they sold out of antlerless deer licenses back in September. Did you even check your state wildlife agency's website? It's been on there they've been sold out for months now. We feel especially sorry for the poor teenage employee who must break the news to old grumpy Gus when he finds out the price of deer permits went up again this year.
Simply put, read the new hunting regulations and buy your hunting licenses early to avoid unpleasant surprises before opening day. It lessens the chances you'll miss out because a tag is sold out. And leave that poor kid behind the register alone, he doesn't set the prices, he just works there.
Washing your hunting clothing and taking stock of your gear.
Look, aside from the usual issues with deer and other game animals winding you in the field, there are plenty of reasons to wash your hunting clothing far in advance of the season. We aren't going to feel sorry for you if you stored your clothes improperly and they now smell of skunk cover scent because you stored it in the same box. Likewise, it really stinks to dig out your hunting boots the night before the season only to realize you forgot about that huge hole that makes them waterproof no longer. It can be especially embarrassing to realize you've put on a few extra pounds and that old coat suddenly doesn't fit anymore either.
This kind of situation really stinks when you're planning a waterfowl hunt in the swamp the following day and can lead to one of those unwanted late-night trips to Walmart we talked about earlier for a new coat or boots. No one wants to do that.
While we're on the subject, take stock of all your hunting gear while evaluating and washing your clothing a few months in advance too. Find out what gear needs replaced and what can be used for another season. Buying a new rangefinder or grunt call is always going to be cheaper in the off-season than the night before the shooting starts. Personally, I like to stock up on cover scents and hunting detergents after the seasons end every winter. That is when the big box stores have that and other useful hunting gear on clearance. It not only ensures I'm prepared each year, it also saves me a lot of money and everyone likes doing that.
Sighting in your gun or bow.
The night before muzzeloading season begins is not an ideal time to try and dial in that new scope you just purchased. This applies to all firearms and archery gear. Yeah, we get it, things get busy and some chores get pushed back. We are guilty of this too from time to time, but you should not put off sighting in that crossbow to the day before the season starts. Every year here in Michigan, I like to go outside a couple hours before dark on the eve of firearms season. It is incredible how many shots you'll hear from guys sighting in their guns at the last possible second.
This is a sure-fire way to possibly ruin your chance at the buck of a lifetime if you do not have things properly dialed in or worse, to simply injure the animal. Would you rather be the guy driving around town with a buck with massive antlers in the bed of your pickup the next day, or the dude who no one believes about the "one that got away?" We know which group we'd rather be in!
Drinking to excess.
Look, we get it, especially if you head to deer camp every season. The hunt is not the only reason you are going. In fact, the harvest may be the last thing you care about and that's fine. You may also be going simply to spend time with friends and family. Some of you probably want to crack open a few cold ones while making new memories in camp. We think that's great. Go for it, but we also suggest doing it in moderation unless you really do not care about your success or how you feel the next day! Don't come whining to us when you feel miserable in a freezing cold blind the next morning.
Seriously, who wants to be sitting in stand dealing with a terrible hangover while ALSO trying to spot deer in the dense forest? Or worse, sleeping in by accident on the opener? We are not saying you cannot have fun during your hunting trip, but we do suggest using common sense. It is awfully hard to call in that big gobbler during turkey season when every sound gives you a grinding headache. That's why we suggest filling that bag limit and your freezer first, then have some fun. You'll thank us later. And isn't it more satisfying to enjoy your cold brews with a fresh venison backstrap or other wild game meat on the grill? Yeah, that's what we thought.