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Preparing for the Upcoming Season

As the months go by and the morning sky is filled with birds, we anticipate the arrival of the starting date when we can start hunting.  All of a waterfowl hunters necessary gear has been stored away for months collecting dust from an absence of use.  There is a number of things in which a waterfowler needs to get ready in order to make the intense dive back into hunting as painless as possible.  We will go over a list of things in which every hunter should do to make upcoming season the best one ever.

  • Getting into a Fowl State of Mind

Getting up at 3:30 AM everyday is something that comes easy for us waterfowl hunters, the anticipation we feel before the first hunt is only matched by a young child on Christmas morning.  Getting into a waterfowling mind set is setting yourself up for obsession.  Early August is about the time when your obsession from last season is starting to decline, and by late August BOOM....your ready for your September hunting, your back in that mind set.  This NEED to get out of a warm bed, bestow work upon ourselves, sit calmly in rain/sleet/snow, in temperatures that chill our bones is the mindset we must get into before a season.

  • Securing Land to Hunt

Before the season starts you will want to make sure that your old hunting land is still available to hunt.  This mainly pretains to the private land that hunters are using.  Ask farmers for permission to hunt and know the land you are hunting so you do not end up trespassing.  Public land and WMA's are very competitive, to avoid potential problems you will want to know where you intend to hunt and make the preparations to get to those spots early enough to hunt.

  • Trucks, Boats, Motors

This is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of getting ready to hunt.  These are your tools that get you into those spots where the birds are and where no other hunter dares to go.  Ensuring that your truck/boat/motor is running smoothly is the difference between shooting ducks and singing a chorus of four letter words.  We have all seen the boat stuck at the dock working on their motor on opening morning.  And we have all laughed and cursed them for being fools as we drive out to our blind.  Testing your boat and motor before you go out is very avoidable and should be done at all costs.

  • Decoys

Looking over decoys to see which decoys need to line/weights will help to avoid problems when you are in the blind.  If you are dealing with flocked decoys, you can purchase kits in which to touch of flocking that has been rubbed off.  Performing touch up paint jobs is something that will help to make your decoys last longer and look better.  This all includes bags that are used to haul decoys.  Any rips or tears can quickly become a problem when you are making your way to the blind.

  • Blinds

Whether you are hunting from a layout blind, boat blind, or pit, you want to make sure that everything is working properly and is ready to hunt in.  Making sure that camo is up to date and looking good can go a long way to insure that you are concealed from birds and avoid flaring. 

  • Bird Dogs

Brushing of the dust of your gear is just as important as reminding your dog how to do his job.  For the best ways to re-educate your dog after a long off season check out Preparing Your Dog for an Upcoming Season

  • Waders

The best and most convienant way to test your waders for leaks is to use them when you are testing your boat and motor.  getting into the water with them is easy and can save you some frustration of being wet for the first hunt.

  • Blind Bags

While not everyone has a "blind bag," a waterfowl will always be in need of may tools to make their lives easier.  Many of the items in your blind bag can be found  in the Hunter's Checklist; What to Bring

  • Calls

More than likely you haven't been practicing your calling throughout the entire off season.  Pulling out your calls and blowing them will get you into the fowl mood as well as ensuring you don't make many mistakes come opening morning.  Some calls may need to be re-tuned or even get new reeds to get them sounding like they should.  This will take a little more work getting the equipment but early detection will make it an easy fix.

  • Shotgunning

Shooting is another aspect that needs to be prepared for.  Being a rusty shot will only make you, your dog, and your friends frustrated in the blind.  Any amount of practice will help you get the feel again for your gun and help prepare you for your first duck.  Let's face it, nobody likes missing a bird and it will always bug you when you do.  I always assume one thing, every bird that you miss is banded.

  • Scheduling Trips

Many hunters travel great distances to shoot birds, setting dates ahead of time and planning for them allows you and your fellow hunters to be on the same page and to all participate in hunts.  Last minute scheduling leads to people who are unable to make hunts and chaos among packing and preparing for the trips.