Make sure you’re ready for hunting season
With center fire rifle hunting season just days away, many hunters are trying to get their essential gear together so they will be ready on opening day. Hopefully you haven’t waited until now to look at your gear to see if any thing needs to be replaced or you are missing some items after being stored after last year’s hunt.
I’m pretty sure that what is most important to me in terms of essential gear will not necessarily be the same in every respect as others. I will simply cover what I like to have ready to go so I can just have it where I can throw it in the pickup and go.
The first item I think of is my rifle and I have been shooting it regularly and have made sure it is sighted in to hit point of aim at 250 yards. That makes it easy enough to just aim at the center of the games vital zone out to about 325 yards or slightly less and still deliver a lethal hit. Beyond that range, if I decide I can make the shot, I can raise the cross hairs in my scope as much as the top of the game’s withers if necessary, and still hit the vital zone while still being able to see the game in my scope. If I think I need to raise the cross hairs higher than the game’s withers, I probably won’t take the shot.
My rifle has now been cleaned, lightly oiled, and I will remove any excess oil just prior to leaving for the hunt.
The next item I check and secure is my telescopic sight. I use a 4-12 x 40 variable scope. After sighting at 12 power, I turn the power down to 4 so that my sight picture will be clear, and I can see the whole animal at closer distances out to 200 yards. If I have to shoot at 300 or more yards, I can dial the power back up as far as 12 power if necessary.
A good pair of binoculars are the next thing on my list of items to check. Clear, crisp, quality binoculars will allow one to glass for hours and find more deer, elk, and pronghorn without eye fatigue or getting a headache.
It is absolutely imperative to have a good pair of boots and to break them in before the season starts. There are a lot of good high-quality boots at most sporting goods stores, but most of them need a break-in period. Walk around your neighbor hood or take them on short hikes at first, so you won’t develop blisters during your hunting trip. I like my boots to give really good support to my ankles and I like them to be water proof with rugged lug soles for travel on uneven terrain.
Quality clothing is the next thing I check. Quality clothing doesn’t have to be the most expensive Gore Tex, or camouflage clothing on your sporting goods store’s racks, but you want to be able to use the layering system to adjust to different Weather and temperatures through out the day. Several of the people I have hunted with wear long underwear under pretty ordinary Levi jeans and long sleeve shirts and a winter jacket, with a stocking hat for early morning and a ball cap for late morning or afternoon. They then would take off the winter jacket and stocking hat, switching to a light pull over jacket and a ball cap for late morning and afternoon. They also bring along light rain gear in case the weather turns wet.
Last year at my son’s urging, I finally invested in high quality water proof camouflage Pants, T-shirt, Pullover jacket with hood, and heavy winter jacket. I still kept both my stocking cap and ball cap in the day pack I carry each day. However some of my friends have been kidding me that I spent so much on new gear. I don’t care though, I was a lot warmer than they were from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. every morning we were out in the field last year.
If you plan on staying overnight in the field, you will appreciate a quality shelter, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. There are no cabins in the three areas I hunt in each year, so I bought a very nice four-season tent, sleeping pad,and down-filled sleeping bag when I returned to Idaho in the fall of 2000.
I had one heavy zipper replaced about four years ago and that tent is still a great place to spend the night on hunting or camping trips. The only problem has been coaxing me to climb out of my sleeping bag early enough on a cold morning to get to where we wait on a game trail for day light from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
I also like to carry extra layers of clothing, water, energy bars, and a couple of knives in a light day pack so I can have lunch, adapt to changes in the weather and do some preliminary processing of any game before moving it back to camp.
So, that’s my list of hunting gear I want to have ready to go. Look at your own list and make sure you are ready, so you don’t forget anything that is important to you.
Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.