This time of year can seem like it goes on forever and ever, but make the most of the slow season and use it to get ready for the busy season. It seems like it is far away but in the blink of an eye, the leaves will be changing, and bow season will be here. So, start getting prepared now for a successful upcoming hunting season.
Check out new gear and equipment at sportsman shows. One show I am looking forward to is the NWTF National Convention in February. This gathering occurs in Nashville, Tennessee at the Gaylord Opryland Resort right across from the Grand Old Opry. It is three days of everything turkey hunting. There is a sport show with every major outdoor company there plus custom call makers, guide services, and more. During the days, there are seminars that range from basic predator control to hosting your first wounded veteran hunt plus luncheons that have auctions and raffles.
Every night there is a big dinner with even more raffles and auctions, including the Grand National Auction where you can bid on things like 6-day hunts with TV hunting show hosts and get to be filmed on your hunt. It is a great way to get rid of cabin fever and to start thinking about gobbling turkeys for when the snow melts. For the non-turkey hunters, the big show in Harrisburg, PA is on the horizon. The biggest companies are showing off their latest and greatest goodies.
Now is the time to test products and ask questions with staff that are the most knowledgeable on the products. This gives you a chance to see what is likely coming to local stores this fall and what you think you need to have. If you find something you want and it’s expensive, now you can start saving for it. Or plan how to spend your tax refund!
If you have been thinking of going on a hunt with an outfitter, there usually are outfitters at these shows also. Just like with new products, this is your time to ask the outfitter questions and get a feel for the operation and the people running it. They are there trying to book trips so they should be willing to spend some time with potential clients.
A few key questions to ask include; what is your primary species, how long have you been doing this, are you fully licensed, and what is your client success rate? If you are going on a hunt in rugged terrain, ask the outfitter what kind of physical shape they expect you in. If they plan on hiking 8-10 miles in the mountains every day and you can’t make it a mile on flat ground, you’re going to need to get in shape.
Maybe you want to try an out-of-state hunt this year. Use the dread of winter to do your research on where you want to go. Find out if the license is over the counter or if it is a lottery system where you must apply and hope to get drawn. Also, research the regulations of the state where you want to go. Some states have different requirements for different things, like let-off on compound bows or optics on black powder firearms, so do your research and be prepared. Don’t get yourself into legal trouble in another state over not researching completely what is legal where you are going.