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A deer hunter’s pre-season checklist

Archery season for whitetails in this part of the state is already open (the bowhunting season runs Sept. 15-30), with primitive weapons (Oct. 1-10) and modern gun (Oct. 11-Jan. 1) seasons to follow.

Most hunters have likely already done some pre-season preparation when it comes to scouting, stand placement, clearing of shooting lanes, and the like, but there are many little aspects that are often overlooked until the critical “Oh my goodness” moment when some sort of oversight presents an immediate problem. Here’s a good checklist that might help. .

▪ While a lengthy dry spell late summer means fewer mosquitoes than normal, it only takes one or two of the pests buzzing about your head to drive a hunter half insane. Keeping still while under attack is a virtual impossibility. Thankfully, the solution is a fairly simple one. Just make sure you have a Thermacel to carry afield and that you have fresh scent wafers and plenty of fuel to operate the unit. It’s a good idea to check it out at home to make sure it will start easily.

▪ Other types of insects can be an even bigger problem early in the season. If you’ve ever blundered into a yellow jacket nest, somehow run afoul of hornets, or climbed into a permanent stand to find wasps have made a home there you know the situation. You are likely to get stung, maybe multiple times, and that’s no fun any way you put it. Indeed, stings can be life-threatening. Everyone should carry a Benadryl tablet or two with them, and anyone who is allergic to stings needs an Epi-Pen.

▪ Check out anything in your deer gear that operates on batteries — optics such as range finders, flashlights, and the like. It’s also a good idea to carry spares. The last thing you want is to be blundering around in pitch-black woods before daylight or after having remained in a stand until shooting light was gone. That’s just asking for an accident. Also, having a good, bright flashlight can be really important when blood trailing a deer at night.

▪ Carry a water bottle or two. It’s easy to become dehydrated, especially if you have a long walk to a stand or expend a lot of energy dragging a deer out of the woods. Also, having some water at hand often enables you to stifle coughing fits sure to scare deer.

▪ Give considerable thought to the items of equipment you will need if you bag a deer. That includes a drag, cart, or other means of getting the animal out of the woods; a finely honed skinning and gutting knife if you field dress deer (it is highly advisable when the weather is warm and preferable at any time); large, sturdy Zip-loc bags to hold the liver and heart if you utilize organ meats; and a pair of latex gloves to wear when dressing a deer.

▪ Keep basic safety considerations in mind. That can mean anything from safety harnesses to letting someone know where you are hunting; carrying a first aid kit to exercising all elements of gun safety (knowing your target, never loading you gun until carefully situation in a stand, being super-careful when using climbing stands, wearing required hunter orange, and in general exercising common sense.

▪ Your attire. Whether it’s the hot, humid weather in the early season or the bitter cold late in the year, comfort not only makes you a better hunter but it is better for your health. Hypothermia and dehydration are threats, and wearing suitable clothing can help a great deal in this regard.

▪ Obviously, don’t overlook legal requirements — proper hunting license, WMA requirements, doe tags (optional), meeting hunter safety requirements (depends on one’s age), knowing regulations such as either-sex days (there are fewer of them this year), and both daily and seasonal limits. Make sure you are hunting on land where you have permission to do so, and if a wounded deer leaves property where you have permission and goes elsewhere, it is advisable to get permission to track it before doing so.

▪ Be sure you have the right ammo for your gun, and this can be of great importance if you use more than one rifle, and of different calibers, to hunt.

▪ , Exercise. Remember, long walks to stands, arduous work in trailing and then dragging out a deer, or the simple rush of adrenaline connected with seeing a fine deer involve stress on the body. It isn’t too late to be doing some exercise every day.

Those are but a sampling of the “be prepared” concerns deer hunters should have in mind as they approach a new season, but by going through this checklist chances are you can avoid an oversight or two that might otherwise present problems.

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