At the time we’re posting this article, archery antelope seasons are already open and the other western big game archery seasons are just around the corner. It’s time to pack up your gear and make those final preparations for the season!
In the final days and weeks leading up to a western big game hunt, use checklists and packing lists to stay organized and give you peace of mind that you’re not forgetting anything.
In the business of preparing to leave for a trip, some little things are easy to overlook but can have big consequences in the field. Here are 7 things not to forget before hunting season begins:
Wash and Re-Treat Rain Gear and Boots
It can be a good idea to wash and re-waterproof your rain gear and boots at the beginning and end of each season.
Rain gear with a waterproof, breathable membrane like Gore-Tex has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish on the face fabric. This is what helps water bead and roll off, allowing the membrane to work properly. Dirt, moisture, busting through brush and being stuffed in and out of a backpack will wear away at that DWR coating.
Before the season, wash and re-treat your rain gear to renew that DWR finish. Products like Nikwax make this easy to do in your washing machine at home. Start by washing the items in a detergent that’s safe for technical outerwear. I use Nikwax Tech Wash. Next, wash them in a DWR treatment like the Nikwax TX Direct.
In addition to your rain gear, this is also the time to wax or re-waterproof your hunting boots. We use Kenetrek Boot Wax on our boots to re-waterproof and condition the leather.
Whichever products you use, be sure to carefully follow the instructions to get the best results, so that your rain gear and boots will function like new.
Re-Stock First Aid and Emergency Kit
When was the last time you did a careful inventory of your first aid and emergency kit? After last season, you may need to replace items that were used. Additionally, you may need to replace items that have expired.
Check things like band-aids, blister pads, fire starters and other common things that you may have used up on your last trip. Before you head into the field this fall, make sure your first aid and emergency supplies are ready for anything.
Test GPS and Satellite Communication Devices
If you use a Garmin InReach or any similar type of GPS or satellite communication device, take the time to update these devices and most importantly, test them before leaving home.
You don’t want to get out in the field, only to discover that your device needs a software update or otherwise isn’t working. As a part of your pre-hunt checklist, plug your device in to check for software updates. The Garmin InReach and most other devices also have a test function to make sure it’s sending and receiving messages.
Replace Rangefinder Batteries
It’s a simple thing, but it’s easy to forget. And your rangefinder is a critical piece of equipment on both archery and rifle hunts. Before this season, stick a new battery in your rangefinder and you won’t have to worry about it later.
Test Water Filters
Water filtration systems are a major lifeline in the backcountry. Filters can get clogged and eventually, they just need to be replaced. Before your hunts this year, get out your filtration system and test it at home. Make sure the water is flowing at a normal rate. If it’s slow, clogged or even if it has just been a couple of years since you replaced it, order a new filter or cartridge now so that you’ll have it before your hunt.
Update Apps and Download Maps
OnX Hunt and other mapping systems on your smartphone need regular software updates. Check for those before you leave on your trip. I’ve learned that one the hard way.
Two years ago, I arrived at camp for a late season elk hunt. When I tried to open up my mapping application, it said that it required an update. Without cell service, I wasn’t able to download the new update and couldn’t use the app. Fortunately I had another map application that I could use. But that’s a mistake I won’t make again.
On your pre-season checklist, make a note to update your apps and download any maps for offline use.
Double Check Season Dates, Units and Regulations
Before leaving on any hunt, take the time to review state hunting regulations. When you pack your hunting license, review the dates and unit or units where the license is valid.
On a hunt several years ago, one of the hunters in our group grabbed his license out of his desk drawer at home and packed it for the hunt. When a game and fish officer checked our licenses at camp, he realized he had accidentally grabbed last year’s license! Fortunately, the officer let him go with a warning, and our friend had to drive several hours home to grab his valid license.
Complicated hunting regulations and varying seasons, units and dates are common with western hunting. Don’t get caught making an avoidable mistake. Be sure and review all of those details before your trip.
Reach Out With Any Hunting Gear Questions
From all of us here at Caribou Gear, we’d like to wish you a safe and fun hunting season. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions on our game bags or other hunting gear. Check out the equipment we carry in our online store and get ready for a great hunting season!
By Ryan McSparran
Ryan is a hunting guide based in Colorado, and is proud to be a part of the team at Caribou Gear.