Yesterday I got a text from Lyle S. in regards to the hunting regulations for the Alberta fall waterfowl season. It got me thinking, in just over a month we will be bird hunting! Throughout my day I was thinking about what I need to do before the season begins. Bring out the later summer checklist!
One thing that pisses me off to no end are people that procrastinate on all the little things that need to be done for the first hunt. We all know that they never do them and if they do them last minute it is a real half assed effort. If you are a waterfowler then you need to get your gear ready well in advance. Why I am rigid on this point is due to the fact that if I personally do not get the tasks done most of us will not be hunting for the opening day. If I dodge the work,t we may get out but it will be a terrible hunt. Opening day is not the time to figure out if your gear or gun is working fine. That should have been done weeks before.
Here is a breakdown of what is on my checklist. My no means is this a complete list just a few of the essentials that we all need to do before going out for opening day.
TRAILER – I have a 6X12 enclosed cargo trailer which we use for bird season. I will inspect the tires. Last year before our spring hunt i noticed a nasty gash in the inner sidewall of one of the tires. If i had not crawled under the trailer that tire would have blown out on the highway. Thanks to Princess Auto a new tire was purchased and mounted. I will look under the trailer for any visible damage. I inspect the suspension springs and ensure that all the trailer lights are in working order. I will grease the axles every summer. I find that with the EZ-Lube axles and a hot sunny day, the application of a tube of new axle grease is easy. Time to get all that dirty grease out with new clean grease. I alternate bi-annually between yellow grease and red grease. That way as I add new grease see my red or yellow that I am adding and I know that I have added enough. Lastly I clean out the trailer and load up gear.
SHOTGUN – If you are a rookie I will cut you slack on this one. If you call yourself a waterfowl hunter and have been hunting a few season you had better make sure you have gone out shooting in the off-season. If you have bought a new gun or choke tube or two the summer is the time to figure out how they work. If you bring a new gun out to opening day without shooting 3 or 4 boxes of shells through it, you WILL be hearing it. Go skeet shooting, shoot some sporting clays, or just get out with the boys and throw some skeets at the farm. Patterning your gun with the hunting ammo you want to try for the bird season isn’t a bad idea but it is NO substitute for shooting at moving targets. Good hunters are good shots and that only comes from PRACTICE. Between seasons, I always shoot a couple of boxes of shells at the minimum. It is not hard to see who has been shooting their guns and who has been lazy. DON’T BE LAZY! Off season is the time to find out if your guns needs work. Make sure it’s cleaned and ready to go. Look for your choke tubes and make sure they get put into your hunting bag.
DOG – Whether you have a new pup like myself or a veteran old warhorse of a bird dog, we gotta get them ready to go. Put the ball away and get those training dummies out. Dig out some frozen birds or bird wing, get them used to the smell of those geese. Make sure their hunting vest/coat still fits. Take them shooting, make sure they are comfortable with their dog blind. Get them retrieving in the water and use your dummy launchers. If this becomes a pattern every summer, your dog will sense what is to come and be ready to go. I bought some new camo bibs and was trying em on with my hunting coat. I walked upstairs and saw Piper sleeping on her pillow by the back door. She open a lazy eye and jumped to attention and bark happily when she saw my hunting clothes. She KNEW what that coat meant, and she had only been out a few times for the spring snow hunt. She was licking my jacket and was jacked up ready to go. So as the month continues we will keep working her up to opening day.
DECOYS – Go ahead, ask me if i cleaned up my decoys before putting them away at the end of last season. I prefer to leaving a protective layer of mud on them to shield them from harmful UV rays. On a nice weekend day , I usually take every decoy I have from our basement decoy room and lay them out on the driveway and front lawn. Now everyone in my neighborhood knows that I hunt. I can strike up some interesting conversations with people wandering by. Imagine this: instead of a sexy carwash fantasy of bikini babes washing vehicles with extremely soapy sponges, I take my shirt off and starting hosing off the deeks. If you haven’t puked a little in your mouth by now, continue reading. Just spray those decoys down, the odd one might need a little scrubbing. This is a time to inspect the decoys see if they need a little paint or fixing. I do a count and figure out what is needed for the upcoming season. Buy decoys now, not on opening day. Now that the decoys are clean, start loading the trailer.
BLINDS – If you think my decoys were dirty you haven’t seen the inside of my layout blinds. Time to hose the inside out and only the inside. The material that blinds are made of are shiny, but when muddy and dusty they are not. I wanna remove the trash and mud from the inside. I will inspect the doors, zippers, backrest, frame, and pockets. I want to make sure it’s ready to go. For a new blind, this is the time to ‘mud up’ your blind. Get the outside muddy or dirty. Get some mud in a bucket, grab an old broom and cover that exterior with some good old shine busting dirt. Remember trying to find a new layout during hunting season is harder than finding a sober person at a Rough Rider’s game.
Cammo – Time to check out your gear, try it on, look for tears and weak spots in the stitching. Remember early season is usually hot so do you have warm weather gear? How’s your cold weather gear? Last October we were field dressing birds in t-shirts, the year previous it was snowing like crazy. Retailers are usually having sales on gear during summer months, look through your clothing, see what you need, and scoop up some deals. Dont be surprised in the hunting season with something that could have been caught with a summer inspection.
BLIND BAG – As you can probably figure, this is the bag that you bring into the field/blind on hunting day. I have a nice bag made by Rig Em Right that I have used for a couple of seasons. I can fit 4 boxes of shells and almost everything else that I need for the day. Time to get the bag packed. Here is a few of the items I keep in the bag, I usually have it packed so it can be ready to go when those birds start flying.
Licenses, Choke Tubes, Ammo, shell holder belt, water bottle, coffee travel mug, knives, knife sharpener, flashlight, headlamp, batteries, 1st aid kit, shit tickets (toilet paper), shooting glasses, earplugs (i use them occasionally), calls and lanyard, game strap, large black trash bags, camera/sports cam, black electricians tape, sharpie felt marker, ballpoint pen, snacks, binoculars, lip balm/sunscreen/bugspray.
If you have other items in your bag, just make a comment and add what you bring along.
NOW get to it, we are running out of time and there will be little patience given to those who leave things to the last minute. Good luck and comment if you have other items that you think should mentioned.