by Eric Hill
Mid July, it's hot, hot, hot. But fall must be just around the corner. Why you ask? Because it's that time of the year when the "deer shows" begin to be advertised. Whether it's the Buckmaster's Deer Classic, The Bass Pro Deer Expo, Buck-a-rama, or other local and regional shows, we know fall and hunting season is getting close. So, how are you going to prepare?
Here are my thoughts:
1. Attend an outdoorshunting expo: I have always enjoyed attending the classic "deer shows" in my area. I usually go with a high level of excitement, not because of the many things I'm going to see so much as I just know deer season is close. If you're like me you've probably forgotten the many "must have" items you found and bought at these shows. Some got used, some didn't. Some proved their value, some didn't. I've always been a sucker for new and "innovative" products. From deer calls that mimic sounds I've never heard in the woods to folding chairs that give comfort when sitting in the ground blind (ha, try to find a comfortable chair to put into the ground blind and you likely won't want to carry it into the woods because of its weight), to new bug repellents guaranteed not to alarm deer! I've got or had them all. I guess I've finally smartened up as I don't think I've added to my deer hunting inventory in the past 2-3 years. Have I finally hit the magic level of having everything any hunter could every want? Probably not and I'll likely find a few must haves as we get closer to the season (I always know I need to refresh my stock of scents so they are nice and fresh).
And as a note--before visiting an expo, take the time to really inventory what you have versus what you think you need. I had a great friend that just couldn't stand to not have something new and interesting that caught his eye. Inevitably, when he got home he suddenly realized he had previously bought the same item, in some instances two or three times. So, know before you go.
2. Take inventory of your gear and know what it's important for you to have. Focus on the basics: how much ammo do you need and what condition is it in? Check your clothes to see if any need replacing. Find those sneaky gloves, face masks, and socks that always hide when you are in a panic getting your stuff together to get to camp. You know the drill--you always end up having to stop somewhere to pick up gloves, face mask, or socks only to discover they are laying right where you left them last season.
Check the condition of your stands, replace rusted nutsbolts and washers. Check those climbing steps to make sure they are not rusty. Find that safety harness and be sure to pack it on top of everything so you don't forget it when heading for your first stand-sit in the fall. Check batteries in flash lights, head lamps, and walkie-talkies. Oh, and don't forget the "paper"--you know the kind I'm talking about. All the stuff that if you don't have it can really cut a hunt short for more than one reason.
3. Consider a "garage sale" or "barter" day at your club. We did that a couple times at a club I once belonged to. Set a date and just pull out everything that you either didn't want, didn't need, or didn't know you didn't need until after you bought it. Believe me, it worked great, especially when one member began selling stuff his wife gave him to get rid of (I mean sell) for her. That stuff went cheap as he couldn't stand the kidding from club members who were surprised those things were part of his hunting "inventory".
I know deer season is close as are the cooler days of fall. I'll visit my local deer show and hope my wife will let me take my wallet just in case I find something new that will help me hunt better!
Enjoy the remainder of your summer and let's all start getting ready for fall.