For many, hunting is a year-round passion. While our preparations may take a backseat to fishing or family activities, checking field edges and reading hunting magazines is a never-ending responsibility, which for many of us is makes hunting a great sport.
With several clubs hosting 3-D archery shoots throughout the year, more hunters each year are ready for their opening day. For shotgunners, skeet, trap and sporting clays is a great way to fine tune your wing shooting skills even before your lips touch a call.
Preparation is the key to a successful hunt. Knowing your equipment and taking care of any problems with your equipment before opening day will make your day in the field go smoother. There is nothing worse then having an equipment problem/failure in the field. Whether it's a newly-discovered hole in your favorite waders or a semi-auto that wouldn't cycle another round, the feeling of irritation when you're a couple miles from the truck is indescribable.
I know that feeling the first hand. As with many of the things we discuss each week, I have, several times experienced failures with equipment.
A big part of hunting and fishing are the experiences and what we take from those experiences.
One of the greatest pieces of hunting equipment that the love of my life has given me, doesn't keep me warm or even fire a shell. It was a Gerber knife. My "tool" goes with me every time I walk out the door. I have hung doors with it, fixed a loose sight on a bow and taken down and field cleaned a gun in a duck blind. It's the gift that truly keeps on giving.
Getting ready for hunting season means more than scouting and equipment check lists. It also means getting your body and mind ready for the outdoors.
As humans we spend the majority of our lives in a fast-paced somewhat protected society. In today's world of cell phones, daily calendars, business and family concerns, often today's sportsmen spend time in the field to get away from it all. Each season I watch clients from across the country come into camp to either hunt waterfowl, turkey or deer and majority of them are more interested in a place to get away from it all, than walking away with a trophy for the wall.
While safety in the woods should be at the top of the mind for all sportsmen, every fall there is something else that many of us aren't so used to thinking about - our physical health.
Whether it's my age or just me getting smarter (my daughter Ashley tell me it's my age) being in shape to hunt each season has been gaining a top spot on my hunting to-do list over the past few years. On the backside of a century on this earth, I spend more time each year getting my body into hunting shape.
Now, I am no physical fitness nut. One look at me will tell anybody that. But I do know what physical challenges my body can handle and what it has difficulty with.
I know it sounds simple, but a doctor client friend of mine told me that walking is some of the best exercise that folks can do. For those of us that haven't been staying in shape, a walk around the block and working your way up to a mile then two, will do more for your physical well-being then anything.
While walking may not be the way to drop a bunch of weight or give you a six-pack stomach, it is a great way to stay in physical shape.
While we try to walk four to five times a week during the summer, I get in a few early-morning walks in as fall gets closer. My early-morning walks start at a good walking pace, then I work my way up to a faster pace. By the end of August I am joined on my early-morning walks with a backpack. My backpack is loaded down with all kinds of weight, but in it the things I generally carry with me for a hunt. This gets me in some sense of shape for my fall walks in the woods.
While I'll never make it to the Olympics or run a race, since I started my "hunting training" I am more comfortable in the woods. I don't work up such a sweat get to and from my stand or hunting location.