Hunters, anglers: Get ready for upcoming seasons now

Does winter weather have you grounded? Is your hunting gear a disheveled mess since the close of recent seasons? Now is the perfect time to clean house!

There are several merits to maintaining a tidy garage, basement or other storage location for outdoor gear. When given a free opportunity, sportsmen should take the initiative to get things organized, so they’re not left scrambling for essential gear during times they need it most.

Many outdoorsmen pursue multiple game species throughout the year. Therefore, some equipment is season-specific, such as turkey decoys for the spring, or grunt tubes for the fall. These items should be inventoried and neatly stowed with other appropriately matching gear for intended purposes.

It is likewise a good idea to keep sport-specific equipment separate from other non-related gear so it is easier to locate when a particular season rolls around. For example, it makes no sense to have fishing tackle mixed in with predator equipment since they have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

Designate a cabinet for fishing gear, a shelf for archery equipment, a drawer for small-game vests, a cubby for waterfowl calls, etc. Though it might seem a bit obsessive at first, I promise it will save you time, effort and a long string of expletives when you can’t find that last minute item you’re looking for while your buddies wait in the truck to go hit the woods or water.

It is unrealistic, however, to have specifically-designated gear for absolutely every single animal you seek. Some gear — such as clothing, headlamps, GPS units or binoculars — can be used interchangeably for a variety of species.

I like to keep these multi-use items in an easy-access location close to gear with which they’re most likely to be used. The key is to be consistent with wherever you choose to store these items. Remember to return them after each outing, and they will not mysteriously disappear.

I have discovered that large Tupperware bins (like the ones my wife uses to store Christmas decorations) are ideal containers for organizing my hunting clothes. I have three that I use at different times throughout the year. One houses my scent-free archery clothing, another holds my insulated winter camo, and the third contains my lightweight spring gobbler and dove hunting apparel.

The bins are easy to stack, and they keep your garments safe from moisture, insects, rodents and household odors. If necessary, you can even label them or buy different colored bins to make them easily
distinguishable from one another.

When organizing outdoor equipment, it is a good idea to inspect all gear for wear and defects that could compromise safety or comfort. Pay close attention to tree stand cables, leaky waders or frayed bowstrings, since all of these items eventually wear out and need to be replaced over time.

If something needs updating, it is best to take care of it now. If you wait until closer to next season, you’ll be more tempted to try to make it last just one more year, and that could be a costly mistake.

The next time Mother Nature dampens your outdoor plans (or you simply need to get out of your spouse’s hair for an hour or two) take advantage of the extra downtime to get everything organized.

It may not be the most exciting way to spend a day off from work, but you’ll surely be thankful for it the next time you don’t have to spend 45 minutes searching for that “bleeping” pair of rubber boots.

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