Taking a break
By the time this blog appears, Christmas will be over. However, for many New York outdoorsmen and women, the week between Christmas Day and the new year offers hunting opportunities for small-game species, including rabbits, squirrels, grouse, snowshoe hares and even pheasants.
I’ll admit that, other than wild turkey hunting, which I consider a passion, I don’t hunt small game anymore. Once archery and the firearms season for deer ends, I call it quits until spring. It’s not that I still wouldn’t enjoy hunting rabbits, it’s more because those friends with whom I enjoyed hunting with are all gone. Some have moved away, and some have passed away leaving me with many fond memories. Not only that, snowshoeing has always been a fun winter activity for me, but a bilateral knee replacement a few years ago has curtailed that activity.
Instead of kicking brush piles for rabbits or walking through the woods over knee deep snow, I’ve found other ways to entertain myself during these winter months. The first is my ritual of cleaning and storing my gear and clothing so that it’s ready for next season and yes, I do anticipate another season with bow and rifle.
My base layer shirts and long johns are washed in a non-scented laundry detergent that has no ultraviolet brighteners. My outer jacket and pant are given an hour in the dryer at high heat to regenerate the scent suppressing carbon alloy they contain. Finally, everything is placed in a scent proof zippered bag for storage until they’re needed again.
My bow is given a once over and the string and cables are given a good rub with a quality string wax. Weather permitting, I’ll still shoot it over the winter months or, if the weather is too nasty, I’ll take it to the indoor range at the local Pro shop for some winter practice.
My rifle will be my next center of attention and I’ll be sure to scrub the bore with a good copper remover and then some Hoppe’s No. 9 bore cleaner. A spray and a wipe with W-D 40 or other good rust preventor will complete the process before it’s placed on my gun rack ready for next season.
I have several arrows that need to be refletched and while I’m at it, I’ll put together another half dozen for use next fall. I get a lot of satisfaction reloading my own rifle ammunition and crafting arrows gives me the same pleasure. By using an attractive arrow wrap and fletch colors to match I can create a look that is unique to me.
One of my favorite wintertime activities is shooting skeet or five stand at our local sportsman’s club. Combine trap, skeet, and sporting clays in one shooting sport and you have five stand. This shooting game features a line of five stations or stands for shooters. Target launchers arranged in front of, to the sides, and even behind the shooters simulate a wide variety of hunting-style shots and the variety makes it great way to sharpen shooting skills or to keep them sharp all year. Each shooter is presented five targets at each station, 25 targets in all. For hunters, it’s a great diversion, because just about any shot at game can be simulated. Bouncing rabbits, flushing grouse or incoming ducks are just a few of the targets shooters can expect.
Winter may be here but, I don’t have any problem keeping busy until I hear that first gobble of spring.