As bird hunting is set to open around the country, late summer is “the time” for avid wingshooters to celebrate the end of a long off-season and get primed for their favorite part of the year. If you are one of the many who feel this way, here are few tips to keep in mind as you make final preparations:
- Take time to clean your shotgun and make sure it is in good working order. While it makes sense to routinely clean your firearm throughout the season, it is particularly important to do a thorough and detailed cleaning now. If you have any doubts about the operation and maintenance of your shotgun, take it to a gunsmith before going out to hunt.
- Make a visit to your local club and tune-up on sporting clays. Gun safety is always the number one priority in shotgun sports, and there is nothing like practice to reinforce the principles that make for a safe hunt. Rehearsing the rhythms and routines of safely using your shotgun on the clays course will pay off time and again as you act upon your instincts in the field.
- Do a full inventory of your gear. Make sure you have reliable eye and ear protection and test it. If you bought a new pair of boots, lace them up and go for a few good hikes. Get out your blaze orange hat and vest and be sure to wear it in the field. Go to the sporting goods store and stock up on the right shells for your shotgun and the game you intend to hunt.
- Get out your first aid kit and ensure you have all the basics to treat a wound or injury, either for yourself or your dog. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” an accident will happen, and smart hunters are prepared for any eventuality.
- Work out your bird dog. Train your dog and get them out in the field to knock off any rust that may have accumulated over summer. Your dog will love you for it and it will get them prepared for a successful and hopefully “injury-free” season. The reality is this is also a good way for the hunter to loosen up as well, so do yourself and your dog a favor and get in shape before diving into your first hunt.
- Inspect and equip your truck. A good hunting trip is bound to take you well off the grid so make sure your vehicle is ready to go off-road. Get an oil change and perform maintenance before the season kicks off. Be sure to pack a chain, handyman jack, and tire iron in case of a flat.
- Read the regulations, know your game birds, and know your hunt area. Hunters are likely to find a variety of game on any hunt and it is important to be knowledgeable of the specific regulations, bag limits, and boundaries of your hunt area. Take the extra time to train your eye to identify your species (and gender) in flight. Remember, if you are not 100% confident your game is legal to harvest, don’t shoot.
We hope you find these tips helpful and we wish every bird hunter a safe and successful season… Good luck and happy hunting!
Photo courtesy of Hank Welles