I don’t know about you folks, but I love the cool, crisp air and the scent of foliage turning during the fall months. It’s no secret that I’m a northern-Minnesota boy who doesn’t like the heat, so bring on the cool temps of fall.
More importantly, each state opens its borders for people to chase game during their respective hunting seasons. Ah, now you get why I love these autumn months. If only I had enough vacation time to take them all off.
I’m an engineer by schooling and trade, so most things for me are pretty black and white. Not much gray where I operate. Process, you ask? Oh, there’s a process for everything. And the reason for that is to promote success. I’m a tried-and-true believer of setting goals, drafting a hunting checklist and then going after it. What is my success rate in the field? Take a look at my freezer – it’s never empty.
To prepare for each hunt, here is a hunting checklist you can adopt, modify or toss out as you see fit that may help you be more successful this season.
1) Maintain your equipment
“Maintenance” is a big term. I get it. But it begins with maintaining your firearms and bows.
Look them over. Are there loose components or dented, damaged parts? Fix them now. I can think of no situation where the game you are hunting will stand around while you fix your busted-up gear.
Maintenance doesn’t stop with your weapons. It continues with your stand, blind or whatever you call the vantage point from which you hunt where you come from. Make sure they are operational. There’s no point sitting in a ladder stand the creaks.
And, how did you get to your hunting destination? Likely your ATV/UTV or your truck. Make sure those items are in operational shape before heading out. Nobody wants to get stranded miles from home. As a friend of someone who made the S.O.S call from a broken-down wheeler way back in the bush, I can confidently say, “Maintain your gear!”
2) Ensure your gear is safe to use
What’s the first thing you learned from your father, mother or grandparents about your firearms or bows?
That’s right. Safety includes more than just making sure you don’t point your gun at someone else, whether it’s loaded or unloaded. It means making sure your firearm or bow is safe to use in the woods.
When’s the last time you restrung your bow? You know that bow strings only last so long, right? You know what happens when a string lets go at full draw? Search that on YouTube and I bet you’ll start paying attention to the age of your string.
Whether it’s your firearm, bow, stand or any other piece of gear, make sure your gear is safe. For your sake, and for the sake of your family. I’ve had friends fall out of stands and break their backs or have their shotguns go off and nearly hurt someone. No risk is worth taking when it comes to hunting.
We’ve covered the two most important aspects before heading out. Now comes the fun part – let’s go hunting.
Here are a few items to take along:
- Hand warmers
- Mobile phone (don’t forget to turn off the ringer)
I bring all of these items with me when heading out in case something happens.
I tend to hunt alone or with my pup, so I pack to survive on my own if need be. Every autumn, I read and hear stories about folks getting lost and rescued days later. Every story could have had a better outcome if the person would have been more prepared with a few of the items above.
This doesn’t mean you have to bring everything and the kitchen sink. Just a few items you can stash in your pockets that are useful if something goes wrong. Your life, and the lives of those who may have to rescue you, is at risk. Don’t be that guy!
Any time you leave the comforts of your couch, you test your skills. Be prepared. I think I learned that in Boy Scouts decades ago. I promise that your adventures will be far more successful and rewarding if you spend a little prep time before kicking around in the wilderness.
Best of luck this season. Be safe.
Updated. Originally published Nov. 3, 2017.