Preparation is the key to any successful outdoor adventure. Knowing your equipment and taking care of any problems with your equipment before opening day makes your day in the field more enjoyable.
There is nothing worse than having an equipment problem or failure in the field. Whether it's a newly-discovered hole in your favorite waders or a semi-auto that wouldn't cycle that next round, the feeling of irritation when you're a couple miles from the truck is indescribable.
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.
And speaking of walking, let's discuss something that should be at the top of time of all our minds - our own well being.
While being safe in the woods should be at the top of the list 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 I am getting smarter (my daughter tells 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. Each year, I spend more time 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 started walking several years ago. I know it's sounds simple, but a doctor client friend of mine told me that walking is one of the best exercises that folks can do. For those of us that haven't been staying in shape, walking around the block and working your way up to a mile and then two will do more for your physical well being than 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 shape.
While I try to walk four or five times a week during the summer, I get in few early-morning walks as fall gets closer. My early-morning walks start at a good walking pace and 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 to the Olympics or run a race, since I have started my ''hunting training'' I am more comfortable in the woods. I don't work up such a sweat getting to and from my stand or hunting location. Carrying decoys and game aren't such a chore anymore.
I am still not too excited about dragging a deer 2 miles to the truck, but I feel comfortable with the thought that if I have to I can, if I take my time.
While I started this ''walking working'' several years ago, I am not naive enough to realize everybody is the same shape. Most folks don't have or take the time to get into hunting shape. If this is the case and you haven't had the opportunity for a pre-hunting physical shaping up routine, knowing your limitations will keep you around to hunt next season.
There is no shame in knowing that you can't do the same things you used to 20 years ago, it's all apart of getting older.
More and more hunters are having physical problems every season in the woods. It's just as important to take care you as it is your game.