Gear Up Now for Summer Camping and Fall Hunting
While it’s still months away, it’s never too early to be thinking about the hunting season and your gear. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately because it’s time to apply for my hunting tags for the fall seasons; I will be applying for a muzzle loader elk tag, and a rifle deer tag. The muzzle loader hunt will be in mid-September, the main time I hunt big game, and so I feel extremely comfortable planning for that trip. The deer hunt will be in late November, if I get that tag, which will be a different hunt for me. I have guided during the rifle seasons, but hunting it on my own is a different story. There are several reasons why now is the time to start thinking about your gear, whether it’s for hunting, fishing, hiking, or camping. I will focus on hunting gear in this article.
First of all, now is a great time to buy hunting gear if you need anything. Things are on sale or at lower prices this time of year when they are in less demand. Also the sportsmen’s shows are making their rounds across the country giving you a chance to check out a lot of gear in one day. At the International Sportsman’s Expo in Denver last month I didn’t pay attention to all of the outfitters for hunting and fishing, OK, I couldn’t help but look at the game mounts and pictures, but my focus was on gear. In particular I wanted a new pack that was light enough to be used as a day pack, yet could also pack meat. I had looked at a lot of things online, but that’s a difficult item to purchase without holding it in your hands and seeing it in real life. At the show I found all of the different options for packs that were there, I got to hold them and check them out, I talked to the sales people at length. Then after I had seen all of the packs at the show, I wandered around looking at other stuff while I contemplated in my mind which pack would be the best for me. After an hour of that, I went back and got the pack I wanted, and I love it so far.
This brings me to my next point of why now is a good time to be thinking about the gear you will use in the fall. With this new pack, I will use it as many times as I can between now and hunting season, to break it in and to get used to it. This is especially important if you get a new pair of boots, a new bow or rifle, or new optic gear. By the time hunting season comes around, all of your equipment should be very familiar to you. I used my new pack last weekend when I went scouting for turkey, and I’m glad I did. It’s a very cool pack, but it has a ton of compression straps, and it took me a while to figure out what all of them were for and where the excess straps should go. I also got a good feel for how hiking in the mountains would be with this pack on my back, and it felt very good.
This also applies to bird and waterfowl hunting, especially if you are buying clothing or a new hunting coat. I bought a really nice upland bird coat two years ago at this time, and I used the extreme cold temperatures of winter to help me figure out how well that coat would keep me warm on a fall pheasant hunt. It proved to be a very good exercise because when it came time to hunt, I knew exactly what clothes to wear underneath that coat so I wasn’t uncomfortable in the cold of morning or in the warmer afternoon, and I didn’t overdress or over pack.
For your more tactical gear, like survival gear, knives, fire starting tools, etc., now is the time to get comfortable with all of those things. While survival practice is always a good idea, it is best to practice under similar conditions to what you may find yourself in when the need is true. It’s a lot easier to start a fire without matches in the summer than it is in February or November, especially because of the effects of the cold on your mind and body. If you can go out in the back yard on a cold February night and consistently start a fire without matches, imagine what that will do for your confidence when you actually have to do that in the wild in November, when your life may be at stake.
The last thing I want to mention on this topic is giving yourself enough time to become knowledgeable of what gear you will actually need, this is true especially for people just getting into hunting, or even hiking and camping. It’s very easy to either bring way too much stuff, or not enough stuff, and either situation can hamper your hunting efforts or make you miserable. If you take the time now to learn what you will need and what you won’t, it will pay off when the time comes to make the trip into the wilderness.