With some school systems still on the 9/3 year, mixed with the year-round school systems, with summer temps still in full swing and fall harvest not yet started it is hard to believe that the Fall hunting seasons start in just ten (10) days.
Early dove season starts September 1 nationally. Waterfowl seasons vary by area (state) but run generally from September to January, and deer and turkey archery seasons generally runs from September 15th to December 15th.
And there are seasons for rabbits and hares, fur bearing animals such as badgers, beavers, fox, mink, muskrat, nutria, opossum, otter, raccoon, ring-tailed cat and yes, even skunks. And even some “non-game” animals have seasons.
Then of course there is deer and elk and turkey seasons for rifle, with a separate season for black powder, usually starting in October. Of these waterfowl and elk are my favorites because of the excellent meat each provides.
So as preppers planning to stock our freezers for the coming winter it might be time to close all the blinds, turn the AC on “freeze”, build a fire in the fireplace and start to do some planning.
Hunters are some of the best conservationist on the planet. Anyone who has contributed to PETA should stop reading this post now and go back to the Marvel Comics page. If you look at your states Fish and Game Departments, the people who manage wildlife, you will find, mostly, people dedicated to maintaining a balance between predators and wildlife. People who understand the areas they manage and what those areas can support as far as herd sizes and populations of predators and how they are integral in the management of wildlife. They also know the important role hunters play in the whole scheme of things and they are hunters best lobbyists when it comes to setting hunting rules. While digging for my fishing license, or passing a warden with a tagged turkey I have met some of the most dedicated of public servants.
Hunting is a tool in their arsenal to manage and maintain the herd size and health of wildlife. Constantly dealing with mans encroachment on wild areas is a thankless job. Dealing with poachers who hunt out of season it can also be a dangerous and heartbreaking job. Some poach because they are lazy and don’t care about the law while others do it because they are hungry. Life is complicated.
Now Let’s Do Some Planning
While sitting by the blazing fire, burning kilowatts to get “in the mood” or being later into Fall with cool days and crisp nights we first need to take a practical view of “hunting” as preppers. You have all heard the stories and many have lived them as well that after a weekend duck hunt, when you do the math, that duck you are enjoying for dinner on Sunday night cost just about $88 a bite. While I love elk it means a trip with all the expenses to Colorado or north, with the increased fees for an out-of-state tag, travel, meals, and on and on. The same for pheasant. On the other hand I have quail almost always foraging in my yard, though the city frowns on hunting in my yard or that of a neighbors. But open areas are less than a 30 minute drive. So while I fully encourage hunting for that desired trophy that provides meat as well as a challenge, I look at most preppers as being more practical in their goals.
What to Wear?
It is all about fashion. With camo coming in all colors of the rainbow now, your fashion choices can be both impractical and functional. CHECK your states hunting regulations as some places demand blaze or hunter orange and for good reason.
Just a cap or a hat in hunter orange is NOT sufficient (except for bow hunting during some archery seasons.) If you are hunting deer, antelope, mountain sheep or elk using a firearm, including black powder, or bow hunting during overlapping firearm deer seasons you are required to wear at least 400 inches of what is called Hunters Orange on your head, back and chest. And for good reason, but, again, with governments involved at all levels check the locations guidelines.
It is generally believed that deer and other trophy American mammals see Hunter Orange as brown or gray. But it is known that they see blue wavelengths better than humans and those would be present in clothing washed in a detergent that contains brighteners, so avoid these as well as the detergents or laundry addatives that contain perfumes.
When NOT to Go
I am a firm believer that if you live in or plan to hunt in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas or any state north and east of New York City you stay home and hide on opening day for deer season. This allows the crazies, amateurs, or the “here, hold my beer” crowd to clear out. It may “scatter the herd” for subsequent hunters but I will take that over playing possible target on day one.
When to Break in New Gear
Now would be good to break in any new gear. While it may not be fashionable pool side or at the beach, the time to break in new boots, and other clothing items is before you are in the field. And not just for comfort but for sound. Find out you have a squeak in a boot at home, or that your arms make sounds when moving against the side of your jacket before you are in the field. The same for all your gear and carried ammo. What sounds like just a little clang to you sounds like alarm bells to wildlife.
The same with sighting in new rifles and checking the sights on your tried and true favorite weapon. Simple things like changes of our posture can affect our accuracy and we should have those dealt with before we head out the door for any hunt.
As with any outdoor adventure follow the common sense rules:
- Tell someone you can depend on the details of your hunt; when and where you are going, how long you will be gone and the names of everyone going with you and their contact information. If you can have that person take a picture of you with their phone
- STICK to your plan
- Yes, take your phone and a radio to use to contact people, to keep track of weather, and to update your contact person should a change in plans arise or something worse
- If no one in your party has a field medical kit and/or does not know how to use the items in it don’t go – use the time instead to get the right training, then go
- Take BOB. Always have a knife you are skilled with, fire starter, signaling whistle, mirror and emergency shelter, not to mention water and some portable foods
- Pack out everything you packed in
- Have the right bags to harvest and carry away the meat you are expecting to bring home
- You aren’t Rambo just yet so use a second shot to finish a kill if the first was not perfect; finish the job
Remember Where You Are
Every hunting trip is a survival trip, a chance to test your skills, your awareness and your ability to support you and yours off the land. Make every one memorable by doing your best to bring success to your endeavor. That friend that loves to party may be better left to other devices while you take on the serious business of hunting live animals with real guns and real bullets with the singular purpose of putting food on your table and in your freezer. If at all possible share your bounty with others less fortunate. Most professional meat shops who will process your kill know of local families or facilities like half-way houses, orphanages and long-term care homes that will be more than thankful for the professionally processed donation.
In Alaska you can obtain a proxy permit to hunt for a disabled person, to get to hunt for them and put meat on their table and in their freezers. On tagged animals it give the hunter a second opportunity to hunt and harvest that animal for someone in need. This may be true elsewhere, again, know before you go.
One last suggestion. Use hunting as a teaching tool with your of-age children. You will be surprised at how they respond. While dining at a neighbors home on venison the host told my children, who he did not know well, that we were eating beef. I corrected him right then and there not to be discourteous, but to teach my children, which he understood.
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