How early is too early to prepare for the 2014 deer hunting season? Don't worry, we're past it.
Sure, 2014 just started and deer hunting season is only a recent memory, but neither of those factors means that you can't start preparing for next season just yet. In reality, it's never too early to start laying plans for your fall 2014 hunting endeavors. If you had a successful season this year, chances are you laid the groundwork early, and your golden season should serve as positive reinforcement that you can do the same again. On the other hand, if you had a dismal season in 2013, it may well have been the fault of nothing more than bad luck, but it also could have been a result of your own failure to begin building a strong seasonal foundation head of time. Either way, the closer we get to spring, the more you should think about the following steps toward making your 2014 hunting season a knockout.
Clean your guns and mind your equipment
If you aren't going to be hunting in the offseason, then your guns and gear need to go into storage. Should that be the case, don't be lazy. Make sure you clean your guns, wash your gear, remove any and all batteries from your field electronics, and store everything in a safe, warm, and dry area. You don't want to pull out your gear next summer or fall to find that half of it is ruined. In addition, you should make a list of your equipment and mark what is and is not in good shape. It's easier to make a gear-shopping list with the season fresh in your mind than it will be half a year down the road.
Scout food sources and bedding areas
During the actual hunting season, you generally want to keep your distance from food sources and steer clear of bedding areas entirely, for fear of spooking the deer on your property and derailing your season productivity. Now that deer hunting is off limits, you can wander your favorite deer property in search of bedding areas, food sources, and other areas of heavy deer traffic that you may not have been aware of. If you approach in a non-threatening manner, you should be able to learn a lot more about your property - and about where you should set up camp next fall - without scaring the deer clear of your land.
Related: Check out these Late Season Hunting Strategies
Plan your hunting trips
If you wait to plan your hunting trips, your schedule is going to fill up with other obligations and you may lose your opportunity. Set aside time now for weekends at deer camp with your buddies or weekends away hunting in other states. By having these items on your schedule early, you make it easier for your friends and family members to plan around your hobby.
Make a reading list
There is a ton to be learned about hunting from all of the resources available to you. Make a list and set aside some time to catch up on your favorite hunting blog, read through your growing pile of outdoor magazines, or pick up a few of the hunting-related books you've been meaning to check out. It may not seem like preparation, but knowledge is paramount to practical success in the hunting field, and it's hard to say no to preparation that you can do easily from the comfort of your favorite armchair.