Getting Ready For Fall

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Hunting season is right around the corner here in the north country and that means a lot of excitement for us. As a guy who likes to be well prepared, it also means a lot of work for me. I generally start my prep work at the beginning of September for an 8/20 opener but in reality it starts way before that. One of the most important things for guys to do who plan on hunting hard, is getting yourself and your dog in shape for the season. As a fly fishing guide I am pretty active all spring and summer and I run my dog pretty regular to avoid trying to cram it in right before the season, which doesn't work.
Besides for the obvious fitness and practice shooting routines, there are a lot of other things that we could or should do to get ready and I will share with you some of what I do.

1.Vet Check
I just like to make sure that everything is right in the world when it comes to the dogs health. Hunting season is going to strain them a lot more than the rest of the year because most of us will push them harder than the rest of the year. If the dog needs meds, stock up on them.
More so than the vet trip you should do some grooming, especially nails and if you give the dogs a trim you might as well do it now. Check your first aid kit and replace any expired items or things that have been used. I place my kit in a Ziploc bag to keep it from getting wet. A lot of people do this put I replace the bags every year to make sure they are still watertight.

2. First Aid Kit
I briefly mentioned this before but it's so important to have a good kit. I have the "Ready Dog Professional Canine First Aid/Trauma kit from gundogsupply.com and I carry the field kit that it contains in my vest inside a Ziploc. The rest stays in the car.  I add EMT gel and styptic powder to this mix. In the preseason I brush up on my field first aid by doing some reading. Cuts, scrapes, foot injury, and even implements are much more common than you would think and being prepared can mean all the difference for your pooch.
The Ready Dog Canine First Aid Kit from gundogsupply.com


3. Check Your Pack
No matter which type of gear you carry most if not all of us carry everything we need for the day inside it. As a guide I like to be prepared so I carry Tenzing Upland Strap Vest. I recommend it to everyone because of its capacity as a strap vest and pack if needed.
We can tend to carry a lot of things or a variety of small things. Either way, sometimes stuff comes out and doesn't go back in. Knives, shells, whistles and all the like tend to find their way out of our packs so go through your pack and make sure you have everything you need. Here is a short list of essentials that I carry every time I go out the door.
1.Knife
2.Electrical tape
3.First Aid Kit
4.Extra socks
5.Zip ties and rope for traps
6.Water bottle for the dog
7.Couple of granola bars
8. High energy treat for the dog

4.Vehicle Check
We often hunt off some shady roads. Check your tires to make sure they will hold up. Check the spare and the tire jack and lug wrench. Change the oil or even get a tune up. I always have a gazetteer in the car in case I need it but I will admit that I mainly use it for scouting and my car has GPS, a feature I recommend to everyone even if you just use it to mark new hunting spots.

5. Gear Check
Now is a good time to go over the rest of your gear. Make sure the clothes still fit and aren't to torn up from last year. Waterproof or oil your boots again. Clean your guns and just look over everything.

In the past I have always felt a little bit like a doomsday prepper when I have made these lists but doing your preseason checks can eliminate a lot of frustration later down the road during hunting season. In fairness I have left a lot out about preparing yourself physically and mentally with shooting exercises and workouts but most hunters I know stay pretty sharp through the year at shooting clubs or tests, etc. A little work goes a long way.

If you want a good chuckle about getting ready for the season, read this article...

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