Getting Ready for Firearms Season; what and how to prepare before you hunt

Eric Davis

Mayhood's Sporting Goods

Itís the middle of October and the firearms season for deer is only a month away. While many of you sportsmen and sportswomen partake in archery hunting as well, you may have a head start on some of the topics I will cover in terms of preparations to make ahead of the season.

The first thing to do is to take your firearm out of storage and give a good look-over(and potentially a good cleaning). Check the barrel inside and out for any rust that may have started to develop. If you see any on the outside of the barrel, you can use fine steel wool and a cleaning oil to remove it. If there is rust inside the barrel, you will need to use cleaning solvents to remove it with either patches or with a bore snake.

Inspect the chamber of the firearms and any going pieces as well. If there is a scope on the gun, check to make sure the crosshairs are square and that the screws on all of the rings are tight. Once you have given your firearm a proper inspection, set it someplace away from moisture and extreme heat.

Now make sure you have the proper ammunition for the firearm. Also make sure you have enough ammunition. While it should not take more than a few rounds to sight a firearm in, things can happen and if you run out of ammunition during deer season it may be hard to come by. I like to always have one full box of ammo in the safe in addition to what I have in my pack, just in case.



Once you have the ammunition you need, head to the range to check the zero of your firearm. You owe it to the animals to make sure your firearm is hitting where you are aiming it to ensure a quick, clean kill. Also, practice with the same rounds you are going to hunt with. Donít shoot cheap ammo to sight in your scope, then go hunting with high end ammo without making sure it is impacting the exact same.

Once you have the firearm sighted in and have given the gun a decent cleaning, you're ready for opening day. Be advised that most firearms shoot their first shot through a clean barrel differently than the second and third shots as burnt powder fills some of the grooves in the barrel, changing how the bullets flies out of the barrel. I have found myself going to the range a day or two before gun season just to shoot my rifle once or twice to foul the barrel. Muzzleloaders commonly have the same thing happen.

If you havenít hung all of your tree stands, you should prioritize that so the deer have time to get used to the treestand. I moved a tree stand two weeks before bow season this year and by opening day they still were using a different trail.

When hanging treestands, always have someone with you. This will make it easier and safer to get the job done while also giving you someone elseís perspective. Take the time to trim any branches that may be in your way either climbing the stand or once your sitting in the stand. Donít clear-cut the area around where youíll be sitting, leave a few branches there to break up your outline and to keep yourself hidden.

Place a pull-up rope at every stand. NEVER climb a stand with your gun around your shoulder. If something happens and you were to fall, you will fall directly on your firearm which can cause serious injury or accidental discharges if your firearm is loaded. It takes an extra 30 seconds to tie your gun to the rope and to untie it when you pull it up once you are in the stand. Always wear a safety harness when hunting from an elevated stand. Every tree stand comes with a basic one. If you donít like the one that came with your stand, you can buy upgraded harness that incorporate vests and pockets to hold gear at the same time while also keeping you safe.

The next step is to get all of your other gear ready. If you like to wash you clothes in scent-free detergent and keep them in a scent-proof container, start this process. You can have clothes in the washer and dryer while getting the other gear ready. I use an upland hunting vest to hold my hunting gear but you can use a fanny pack or backpack if you want.

While its not the law, you should wear hunter orange for safety during firearms season. I keep a ziplock baggy filled with two sets of nitrile gloves, a couple pens, and a few zip-ties in one of my vest pockets. I have a 6-8 foot long piece of rope for dragging a deer out of the woods and my knife in the same pocket. In another pocket I keep a grunt tube and bleat can call. By using a vest made for upland hunting, there are several pockets lined with shell holders.

When using a shotgun, the slugs just go right in the same holders. When I carry a rifle, I can get two cartridges into one shell holder. This makes it easy to reload if I need to. One thing I have started carrying in the past few years is a foam cushion. This keeps wet or snowy tree stand seats from soaking into my pants while hunting, keeping my in the stand longer.

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