By: Tim Hoffer
According to the calendar, it’s spring here in Montana, but from the amount of snow still on the ground and random snowstorms still making an appearance, it’s obvious that winter just barely loosened its grip.
But, before we know it, hunting season of one kind or another will be here. Spring bear and turkey is coming up fast, and then the calendar-watching begins in earnest; the coming months will be a blur of checking the draw results, 3D shoots, scouting, training and finally, Opening Day.
Before we get too far down that road, one thing we all need to do is ensure our gear is prepped, clean, functional and ready for the season and everything we will throw at it. Below is my basic “maintenance” routine for all of my critical hunting gear:
- Replace the batteries in your headlamp, GPS or digital camera. Tip: Keep the new batteries WITH the device in storage but not in the device until you are going to use it; batteries over time can (and often do) leak battery acid and cause corrosion, and you will never accidentally drain the batteries if they are not in the device.
- Sharpen your primary hunting knife or confirm you have enough replaceable blades if you prefer that style of knife. Lightly oil the folding mechanism as well, and check that the scabbard is clean too – no grit, dust, etc. to dull a blade.
- Wax and waterproof your boots. Replace the laces while you are at it, and check that the insoles are in good shape for another season.
- Wash and inspect your hunting clothes. This may include reapplying DWR to waterproof/breathable fabrics, checking that all zippers are in good working order, fixing any rips or tears from last year and if needed run them through the wash with a good unscented detergent.
- Clean zippers, check buckles and be confident your backpack is ready for hauling heavy loads. Areas you want to check are zippers glide smoothly, all buckles are intact and that the pack and frame are clean from last year’s pack out, being dropped in the mud, etc.
For more thorough cleaning tips check out our Cleaning and Care page. Tip: Always pack a spare waist belt buckle with you at all times. Carrying a huge load without the ability to cinch down your waist belt is a recipe for suffering, as all of the weight is on your shoulders. It’s cheap and light insurance. Inquire on our Warranty page to purchase additional hardware.
- Restock critical items in your first aid/survival kit if needed. Check on things like spare batteries, water purification tabs or a spare lighter – anything that may have gotten used last season.
Also, have you or your hunting partners ever taken a Wilderness First Aid course? If not, sign up and be even more prepared. First Aid knowledge weighs nothing but can help make the difference between handling a serious situation properly or ending a hunt early.
- Review and update your mapping software of choice. Download new areas, review past hunts and waypoints, and make sure everything is working and up to date and you are familiar with any new features.
- Shoot your bow or gun. Practice. No, really practice! Get back into the groove of a perfect anchor, grip, and release, or settling in behind the scope with a tight cheek weld and consistent trigger pull. Also, be sure everything is in working order, oiled, waxed, all nuts tightened, string is in good shape, arrows tuned, bullets matched and scope clean.
This list is by no means comprehensive but it’s a good place to start; add to it, tweak as you see fit so your kit is dialed in, and you are even more prepared as we get closer to Fall.