Wrapping up hunting seasons and looking ahead to 2015 casting and blasting out-of-doors
Early February marks prime time for diehard ice anglers, and while ice fishing still is growing in popularity, most outdoorsmen and women do not regularly partake in the wonderful sport of hard-water angling.
With February a slow time for many outdoors enthusiasts, now’s a perfect time to get caught up on some unfinished tasks. You know, mundane things that get forgotten during fishing or hunting seasons.
Pulling apart and cleaning your firearms comes to mind as the first order of business. Now’s the time because you’re under no pressure for an upcoming shoot. Also, if you take it apart and can’t get it entirely back together again (like has happened to me), you have time to visit a local gunsmith for assistance.
Check out the manual for each of your guns and follow the recommendations for cleaning and lubricating each part. While it’s essential to regularly clean and lubricate during the season, we know most hunters don’t do this very often. Pamper that firearm now, and it will perform well this spring and fall.
For archers, visit your favorite archery pro-shop and get a your bow tuned. Fix any stressed parts, restring as necessary, adjust or install sights, repair your arrows, and silence any noisy elements so you aren’t busted when that trophy comes into range this year.
With proper maintenance of your weapons, at least you can’t blame it for any misses. Eliminate yourself as the weakest link, by hitting the range and getting instruction from a qualified shooting trainer.
Pattern that shotgun, fine tune that scope, perfect your draw, and practice. It’s the No. 1 thing most hunters wish they had more time for, so take advantage of this off-season now.
While you’re at it, pull out all the gear you hastily closeted near the end of the season. If you are like me, you put things away hoping for one more outing, only to have other commitments or weather stop you.
If you camp, give those dishes and utensils an extra good cleaning. Properly clean kitchen equipment, especially stoves, camp showers, and water bottles. Make sure everything is thoroughly dry before putting it away again. Put the dryness of winter to use! (Compared to the dampness of summer and fall).
Speaking of camping: Reminder that the application period for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness entry permits opens on Wednesday, Jan. 28. First come, first served, and reservations may be made online.
Clothing can be cleaned, thoroughly dried, and shrink-wrapped so that it’s ready to go when the canoe camping season creeps up on you faster than you expect.
Anglers should go through their tackle boxes and clean everything, sharpen hooks, untangle plastic skirts, and tune any lures that got funky last summer. Reorganize as needed knowing that, unless you are extremely persnickety, whatever system you use will trend towards entropy.
As I rush to prepare the night before fishing opener, as I find myself on the water, in the field, or on the trail with functional equipment that’s not as good as it should be, I think about all that time I had in February and March!
Not only is all this stuff necessary, but it’s a more productive way to dream about the next season than just watching all those outdoors infomercials on television.