Here are some important things to check off the to-do list before hunting season.
Before you know it, deer hunting season is upon us and you're probably scrambling to get things done. For your best odds of success this year, it is important to make a checklist of necessary chores ahead of time. Doing this will help ensure a safe and productive season for all sportsmen and women as we head to the woods bows and rifles in hand.
Avoiding procrastination and taking care of these things now will help you avoid unwanted frustration once it is finally time to head to the deer stand.
Whether you hunt public or private land and for the meat or for the trophy of a lifetime, these tips will help make 2020 one of your best seasons ever.
Review State or Province Hunting Regulations
Many deer hunters forget to do this every year, and some get into unintended trouble when they do not realize the rules may have subtly changed since least season. For instance, the boundaries of your favorite Wildlife Management Area (WMA) may have changed and that favorite ridge or creek bottom may no longer be public land. Management units may lower or raise the number of available deer tags, helping you avoid disappointment by applying at the correct time. This is especially true for antlerless deer permits in many states.
Unfortunately, some deer herds may experience devastating disease outbreaks like chronic wasting disease or CWD. These outbreaks always result in extreme deer management changes. Your state may completely adjust the number of available deer permits and bag limits. They may even institute mandatory checks and rules on carcass transport.
The larger point here is that ignorance of a slight rule change is no excuse in the eyes of the law. Avoid tickets and other legal problems by staying on top of the rules. Almost every state gives away a copy of their deer regulations when you buy a license. Grab a copy and brush up in your free time between now and the first seasons.
Do Some Mindful Scouting
Even if it seems like game activity in your area never changes from season to season, getting out and scouting ahead of time is important every year. The woods themselves are a living, breathing thing. Stuff changes from season to season and unless you get out there and look around, you may not realize it until it is too late.
Maybe a tree has fallen, blocking your favorite natural funnel. A waterhole may have dried up. Maybe deer movement has shifted in response to you over-hunting a stand.
Sometimes food sources or bedding areas can change through modern progress, farmers rotating their crops or simply through nature's natural processes changing the landscape of the forest. All these factors can shift deer movement suddenly and unexpectedly. Many a hunter has been suddenly surprised when their once hot stand location suddenly is not producing anymore.
Do not forget about your trail cameras either. Keep the batteries fresh and make sure to change the cards before they are full. Experiment with new camera locations, and remember that every photo of that big buck is another piece in the puzzle of figuring out his movements.
Practice With Your Firearm
You may have dialed in your rifle last season, but a lot can happen between the months. Scopes can get bumped in transport to and from your hunting area without realizing it. Suddenly, your gun is shooting high or low, costing you a chance at that buck of a lifetime.
It is important to get to the range every year for a check. The sooner the better. After all, you do not want to be that guy sighting in at last light the day before firearms season right?
Range time is equally important when you are purchasing a new firearm. We are personally looking forward to some range time with the new Savage Arms 110 Ultralite with the AccuFit system. This system allows you to adjust things like the length of pull, the comb height and the trigger pull quickly and with minimal tools. We're able to make sure there is plenty of time to really dial all these things to perfection before we head out.
Also make sure you are sighting your rifle to appropriate distances. Get a rangefinder and check out the maximum distance for shots from your stand ahead of time. Focus your range time on honing shots to those distances rather than unrealistic ones you may rarely shoot at. It doesn't make a lot of sense to sight a rifle to 300 yards if the average shot distance in your hunting area is only 100 yards.
Do Safety Checks on Your Equipment
Your family is counting on you to come home from every hunt safe and sound. That is why it is important to do a review of your most vital equipment before you ever step in the woods.
Make sure your rifles are clean and free from defects. Make sure the safety and action are operating properly to avoid misfires and jams.
Safety checks of treestand equipment are especially important. Make sure no bolts have come loose and that nothing has become rusty in storage. This is also a good time to oil parts that could squeak and alert deer to your presence.
If you have a permanent stand you leave out all year-round, go out and make sure it has not been damaged by the elements. Check all safety harnesses and ratchet straps for signs of rot or fraying that could lead to these things failing and a life-changing fall. Treestand safety is not something to take lightly.
A little bit of forethought on safety long before the season will help you avoid unwanted surprise accidents in the future and it will also give your family peace of mind that while you are hunting, that you are doing it safely.
Do Maintenance Work
We already mentioned how things can change significantly in the woods over the course of a year. Do a walk-through of your property's boundaries to make sure there are not any problem areas. Some fallen trees could also make for tripping hazards on your way to and from your favorite stand in the dark. Make sure to check the pathways ahead of time.
Lastly, make sure to check all your shooting lanes for your treestands and ground blinds. New foliage is going to grow up every year and almost every stand is going to need at least a little extra pruning before the season starts.
Adding and checking these tasks off your to-do list every hunting season will not just help avoid procrastination, they will also help you have more success in the deer woods this season!