The one area that involves more effort for myself than getting decoys ready/fixed/cleaned is getting all the gear ready to rock. For myself, this is an area that takes up more time/effort/$$ than all the other inventory areas combined. I do get frustrated with people who have very little gear and come unprepared for a hunt. In fact if I think you haven’t put the effort into getting ready to hunt, I won’t be hunting with you. I think it’s a real slap in the face for those who the hunt truly relies upon to have clowns show up. Everyone starts out new and doesn’t know the ropes. I am not describing them, but those who have some experience and show up late, undergeared, or completely unprepared. But I rant…
I will break this down into a few sections : SHOTGUNS, CLOTHING, TRUCK/TRAILER & MISC.
NEVER show up to a hunt with a gun that you have never fired, cleaned, or have no idea how to operate. This may sound ridiculous but it’s true and we all have run into these dudes. You can only be a good hunter if you have done a little shooting in the off season. Learn which choke tube you will use off season with some shooting practice. Pick up your ammo early and shoot it through the choke tube(s) you plan to hunt with. The more effort you put into pulling the trigger in the off season the more birds will hit the ground.
We start our season out in +25 Celsius and can end up our season in -25 Celsius. We hunt in sun, cloud, rain, and snow in one season. It involves us to have multiple sets of cammo clothing. Since I hunt primarily in layout blinds we don’t have to have the latest and most expensive Sitka brand gear. One of the best prairie hunting colours in an old beat up Carhart Duck-cloth colour coat/coveralls. For snowy days or days where I will be snow goose hunting I wear a pair of white coveralls over my cammo. The time to find out that your clothing/cammo is wrecked is not in the middle of the season. I did that this spring when my coverall’s leg zippers crapped out 2 hunts into the season. Thank goodness for a good sale on Under-Armour gear at Cabelas. I also throw a blanket into my layout blind for those days that I underdress.
If you are using a layout blind make sure it is dirty/muddy (since they shine when clean) and the doors, zippers, backrest, and stubble straps are in good shape. One can find a decent blind during off-season but inventory can be picked over mid season.
For your main ride make sure it’s running OK. No wants to do maintenance of a vehicle that we all knew needing doing preseason. We wanna be shooting birds after all. Keep jumper cables (oh yes!), tow rope (used every season) and some basic tools handy. Sounds obvious but so easy to forget. Figure out how you are going to haul yourself, your dog, and gear to the field/pond in advance so you don’t forget critical gear/decoys/shotguns. Early mornings and clear thinking do not go hand in hand for most so think it through before your first hunt.
For those who use a trailer to haul gear, make sure it’s road worthy. Don’t hook it up the night/morning before a hunt and find the lights aren’t working. Done that before. Make sure the lights work, that it’s licensed, you have a spare tire/jack/tire iron, and that it’s in a road worthy conditions. Grease up those bearings lads! My cargo trailer usually costs me some $$ each off season in tires, repairs, or body panels since enclosed trailers and gravel roads don’t seem to like each other. I had to throw checker-plating over the lower rocker-panels of my trailer last week since the sheet metal was falling apart. It wouldn’t have made another hunt without a piece of sheet metal peeling off on the highway. How embarrassing.
Get your blind bag ready lads. Make sure the essentials are in there. Make sure there is a gun cleaning kit with OIL in your bag or someone in your party’s bag. Batteries for flashlites/headlamps, and other toys are important. I keep black electrical tape and a few small tools with me. Things always seem to go wrong and usually can be jury rigged in the field. Keep a first aid kit with BANDAIDS in there. I hunted once and took a big chunk outa my thumb, no one had a bandaid. I hunted on of course but my gun was covered in blood and it wasn’t bird blood. The man with toilet paper in his blind bag can be revered as a god!
In summary I don’t wanna sound like an old granny here but if you are not a good hunter at least try and look like one…be prepared. That reminds me, I need to get toilet paper in my blind bag.