Whether you were successful this hunting season or not, it will eventually come to a close. It is a bittersweet feeling in December or January when you make your last stalk or deer drive and know that the season is over. You may be only eight or nine months away from the next September rut, but it still seems so far away. You will need to put away your hunting gear and store it for the summer. Here are a few steps that will help you put away your clothing, equipment and weapons in order to make you better prepared for the following season and preserve your gear for years to come. Using this checklist will insure your hard earned hunting gear will last centuries and be ready to go year after year.
I recommend storing your hunting clothing in a hard-sided plastic tote with a locking lid. This will keep it safe from rodents, bugs, moisture and dirt for an extended period of time. Before storing it in a tote, be sure to follow a few steps to make sure it lasts. Before putting away your hunting clothing it is important to wash and dry everything appropriately. After washing and drying your clothing, you should repair any rips, cuts and flaws in order for it to be ready for the following year. Clean off your boots. Remove any mud and put in a drying or scented drying powder in order to keep the odor down. Then, I suggest that you make an inventory of what you put in the tote and tape it to the side or lid. This way, if you are just looking for a specific piece of clothing, you can easily find it in the future, especially if you have multiple hunting totes. Before shutting the lid with your clean, repaired and ready to hunt clothing, I suggest you add in a pine or dirt scent wafer or two in order to keep the clothing fresh smelling and outdoorsy months from now. Finally, store it in a closet or garage where it is safe until next season.
When it comes to hunting equipment, there are a wide variety of items you could be thinking about. The most important thing is that all your gear is clean, dry, organized and ready for the following year. This means cleaning and sharpening your knives, putting new batteries in your headlamp or GPS, drying out and disinfecting your water bladders, cleaning blood out of your pack and ensuring all other items are free from dirt and debris. Another thing that you can do this time of year is check your supplies and quantities of expendable items. Some of these items that may need to be replaced are freeze-dried meals, wind checkers, game bags, disposable blades and other items you use and throw away. Typically, you can have a good idea of what you need and put them on your Christmas or birthday list the following year. This way, you will finally have an answer when your husband or wife asks what you want for these special occasions.
One of the most important things that you should do during and postseason is take care of your weapon or weapons. Guns and bows are our main and, often, most expensive tool that we use in the mountains so we need to be sure to put them away appropriately. For bows, the main thing is to wax your strings, assess your limbs, strings, sights and rest for wear and tear before storing in a quality case until you begin shooting again. For a rifle, pistol or muzzleloader, you should clean the barrel internally and externally, oil a wooden stock and break down and clean any internal parts. Taking weapons into the field can wear them out and get them quite dirty — even after a short hunt; however, if we carefully clean and store them, they can last for generations. Another thing that I started to do this year is inventory my ammo postseason. With the scarcity of ammo these days, it is important to know how much you have and pick it up when you need it. Post hunting season is some of the best times to buy ammo since most people do not think about it until the following season. The last thing you want is to be driving around looking for your brand of 300 Win Mag shells the week before your rifle hunt.
After the hunting seasons have ended, you are responsible for taking care of your equipment and making it last. If you are like me, I do not have unlimited funds allocated towards new equipment so I like to make what I have last. Doing what you know is right in order to clean and store all of your equipment will make it last longer and give you peace of mind that everything is ready to go when you get it out of the tote or case next year. Anytime you can inventory your clothing, gear, ammo, weapons or other equipment, you will be able to tell what you need, which will allow you to prepare quicker for a last minute hunt or your next season. Take care of your hunting gear and it will take care of you.