The summer months are approaching midpoint and many hunting seasons will be here before we know it. It may be hard to think about crisp fall days in a blind or treestand when temperatures in the 90s turn thoughts to shade, lakeside fun and cold drinks, but it’s better to start working on your preseason hunting checklist now than be caught unprepared when opening day arrives. Here are some tips from the pros at Nexgen Outfitters.
Get out and shoot. If it’s been a while since you shot your bow or put some rounds downrange with your hunting firearms, now is the time to check them out, tune them up and sight them in. Take time to inspect your bowstrings, arrow fletching and other gear. It’s better to find potential problems now and beat the rush of procrastinators at the pro shop later to get gear in order. Make sure you’re putting arrows into targets from various ranges, angles and shooting positions to work out any kinks or bad habits in your form. If you need help or have questions, reach out to Dan Gurr, our archery pro here at Nexgen Outfitters. He’d be happy to answer your questions or make recommendations about new archery gear. If you’re in need of arrows, broadheads or other accessories, see the selection we have for you at Nexgen Outfitters by visiting www.nexgenof.com and clicking on the Archery tab on the menu across the top of the page.
Now is also the time to get your rifle, shotgun and hunting handgun ready . If you didn’t clean your firearm when seasons ended during the winter, take it out and do it now. This is the time of year we recommend a deep cleaning to ensure reliable function and discover potential problems. That usually involves disassembling the firearm to some extent in order to get the dirt and grime out of hard to reach places such as the action, trigger mechanism, breach and other areas. If you’re unsure how to do this, take your firearm to a gunsmith or local dealer to learn. There are also a number of very good videos online that show how to take apart and reassemble various kinds of firearms. Once the gun is thoroughly cleaned, take it to a shooting range to be sure the sights or scope are zeroed in. If the groups hitting the target aren’t as tight as you’d like, experiment with different brands and types of ammo. Some guns will shoot any ammunition well, while others are finicky. And if you’re shooting a shotgun, take some time to pattern it. Doing so might reveal why you missed some birds last season. And don’t forget to spend some time shooting clays during the summer to keep your shotgun skills honed. Nexgen Outfitters has targets for sighting in, all kinds of ammo, slings, scopes and a wide range of shooting accessories at www.nexgenof.com .
Sharpen your knife. You’d be amazed how many hunters overlook this step only to curse doing so when a buck is down and the knife is dull. Sure, field sharpeners allow you to sharpen the blade on the spot, but most of those are meant to hone an edge for immediate on-site work. Nexgen Outfitters suggests you invest in a sharpening system such as the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker Complete Sharpening System . Spending some time on your knives now will make field dressing game in the field a whole lot easier in the fall. And starting the hunt with a razor-like knife means less chance of fumbling with a field sharpener in cold snow and rain later.
One of the biggest challenges facing hunters in many areas is finding a place to hunt. A wise man once said, “Ye have not because ye ask not.” So now is the time to identify and contact landowners in the area you plan to hunt . Make some calls and knock on some doors. Landowners will often appreciate your courtesy and diligence in doing this now rather than the night before or morning of the season opener. And if you’re fortunate enough to already have a relationship with a landowner, cherish that friendship. Reconnect to be sure it’s still okay to hunt his/her land before each season. It’s important to learn if property boundaries have changed or special circumstances on the land have altered access to places you’ve hunted before. It’s also a great idea, once permission is obtained, to send a thank you note BEFORE the season begins. In the note you can express your gratitude for the opportunity and include the dates and times you plan to be on the land. A description of the vehicle you’ll have will also be helpful to the landowner and could prevent an interruption of the hunt by someone checking on whose car or truck is parked nearby. Pick up a gift card or other gesture to show your appreciation now too, lest you forget once your hunt on the person’s property is over.
There is no question that preseason scouting offers great benefits and increases chances for success. This presents no problem for those hunting on land they own. But if you’re hunting on property you’ve asked permission to be on, be certain you know when the owner welcomes your presence there. Permission to hunt doesn’t necessarily mean permission to scout. But one way to increase the odds of you being able to do both is to ask if there are any tasks the landowner would like help with on the property. Most farmers and ranchers would welcome help inspecting or fixing fences, clearing brush or spraying weeds, and may even be open to having you help with pests such as prairie dogs, pigeons and other vermin. Earning a bit of sweat equity never hurts. Offer to help out some weekends if you’d be allowed to stick around to check game cameras or scout in the evenings. Once the seasons get closer, visit the area where you’ll be putting a treestand or blind to clear any overgrown brush, branches or timber felled by summer storms that could block your shooting lane.
Part of scouting can be done remotely by setting up trail cameras . The technology behind these handy tools continues to get more impressive each year. Not that long ago, trail cameras produced images in black and white only, but now you can vivid color images in resolutions so high you can almost count the hairs on a deer’s back. There are even models that will transmit photos to your cell phone every day, sparing you the chore of traveling to the camera and swapping out a memory card. See Nexgen Outfitters’ selection of trail cameras HERE.
If you own or lease hunting land on which it is permitted to put game feeders, now is when you want to be feeding diligently . Antler and horn growth is in full swing now and game animals need access to nutritious food and fresh water to ensure good health when the summer heat is on. Nexgen Outfitters has both feeders and high-quality feed to help you with this. See the products we offer HERE.
Get in shape. It’s no surprise that the number one complaint hunting guides have about clients is the number of hunters who arrive for the hunt physically unprepared for it. This is especially true if the hunt will take place at an altitude different from that of where a hunter lives, or across terrain the hunter is unaccustomed to. But being in shape for a hunt is vital even if you won’t be using a guide. More hunters lose their lives or are injured as a result of being physically unprepared each year than as a result of firearm accidents. By that I mean more hunters experience heart attacks, cardio-respiratory distress, broken bones and sprains than physical injury from weapons they or others in their hunting parties carry. The single most effective exercise hunters should be doing year-round is walking. Any regular walking is good, but it’s even better if you have a place to walk with some uphill and downhill stretches. If you don’t get much exercise due to a congested schedule or limited time, it’s recommended you check with a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. If you are able to walk or hike, do so. Not everyone will be able to do 5 miles a day to start. So begin with a stroll around the block. When comfortable with that, do two blocks. Keep adding to the length of your stroll as you get stronger. Also consider adding some weight training to your exercise program. Doing so will result in an increase in strength you’ll appreciate when you must drag that deer out of the woods or help a hunting partner pack out an elk. You’re the best judge of your physical condition and the kind of shape you’ll need to be in for the hunting you’ll be doing. Be thinking about that and taking appropriate steps now so you’re prepared once opening day arrives.
These are just a few suggestions offered by the pros on staff here at Nexgen Outfitters. Our team has more than a century of combined experience in hunting, fishing, camping and shooting sports, so we’d like to think we know what we’re talking about. Our goal is to help you and your family get the maximum amount of enjoyment from your experience in the outdoors, and part of that involves adequate preparation before those adventures begin. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need some help getting ready for the upcoming hunting seasons. That’s what we’re here for.