Plenty to do before hunting, fishing seasons roll around again

Ugh. No ice on western Lake Erie, bow season over, cabin fever, what to do? It is not as much fun as being “out there,” but I am doing things down in the man-cave now so that when the outdoors truly beckons I can be out there without muss or fuss.

Example: I have been slow to “winterize” my 1984-vintage, 15hp Sea Horse and if I don’t get going on it soon, I’ll have to “spring-ize” it. But exchanging the 90-weight in the lower unit, pulling and cleaning and gaping the plugs, then fogging the cylinders with fogging oil is not that much of a chore. It just needs doing.

But I will get it done this week – promise. I keep it cozy indoors all winter, but I want it to start in just a pull or two at the dock near Davis-Besse come April, when my buddy, another Steve, and I slip out for some near-shore walleye jigging on a flat day on the near-shore western Lake Erie reefs. My equally vintage 13-foot Boston Whaler is up to that. I wonder how many rigs I see, sitting out ion the weather unprotected, will run, first crank or two, come spring.

Speaking of the Whaler, there are another couple of attention items: I impulse-bought a new drain-plug, which I actually need but have neglected to purchase. I’ll toss it in my boat tool-box, as needed. And, better yet, I bought a new depth-sounder/GPS unit to help us stay on track when the Other Steve and I do our jig-and-minnow thing for walleye. I have to rig the unit to the hull, though, which will take some already anticipated engineering; I want to drill no holes in a 45-year-old classic hull and have plans afoot for the “fix”…

Involved in another winter cabin-fever remedy, I ordered a new peep sight for my .54 Hawken muzzleloader. The one I originally installed years ago is somewhat flimsy to my taste, never really liked it, and it is not near as nice as the one on my son’s .54, which I happened to handle during a visit to his place in North Carolina. Now my Hawken wears a much sturdier peep sight, complete with a “twilight” brass-lined aperture. I’ll be a happy camper, riflewise, next muzzleloader season.

Last and not least, I am refletching a dozen arrows, replacing broken, crumbling plastic vanes with fine turkey feathers. This is for my son, Aaron, a fine Colorado elk hunter. He recently asked me to be on the lookout for a good recurve bow, and The Old Man just happened to have one he did not remember: The vintage 63-pound, 60-inch Bear Kodiak Hunter that I killed my first deer with, in Pennsylvania, many, many moons ago. I love that bow but “maturity” no longer allows me to properly draw and shoot it all afternoon, or even more than about 10 draws at a stretch, like I did 30 years ago. I finally realized that agood razor-sharp broadhead is what kills. Like a grizzled, well-experienced buddy once said, “how far beyond the deer (or elk) do you want the arrow to fly?”

I retired that heavy Bear but sought out and found a 53-pound Hunter, just like it, which I can draw and shoot plenty. So it was a no brainer for me to pass on this family-heritage bow to my son, who wants to get back to barebow basics instead of cams, wheels, kisser buttons, mechanical releases, and sights. The old 63’s arrows, shafts and knocks in fine fettle, just needed new fletching. So – another winter project for me.

I’ll be taking the 63, and my own 53, out to Colorado this spring to spend an afternoon at a sand pit, shooting and coaching Sonnyboy in the art of barebow archery. (I already have suggested that he read Byron Ferguson’s wonderful little guide, Become the Arrow, for homework.)

So, maybe El Nino did us dirty here in the lower Midwest, ice-fishingwise, this winter. But there is plenty to do in the “git-‘er-done” department to make the rest of 2016 outdoors action run smoothly. Git ‘er done.

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