Waterfowl seasons are underway in many states, with some of the best duck and goose hunting still yet to come. Once you’ve gathered your essentials for waterfowl hunting, including your guns, boat, calls, decoys, waders, and blind materials, you’ll need to ensure everything is in working order and ready to go. Many hunters found our Dear Season Prep List to be helpful so we’ve compiled a handy checklist of things to do to prepare your gear for waterfowl season.
Tune Your Calls
Before every season, you should clean and check your reeds. It will never hurt to put new reeds in your calls at the beginning of each season. If you do not know how to tune your call, then you can contact the company of the call you own to send it in to get a new fresh set of reeds and have it tuned properly. Once you have your call back in tune, that is the time to practice. Just like anything else in life, duck/goose calling is no different, and practice makes perfect. When practicing, don’t just sit there and blow your call randomly. Sit there and imagine yourself in the blind and think of those scenarios you’re going to be in. Imagine those ducks circling above and they take that wide turn. You hit them with the comeback call and they bank hard and lock up and finally pitch in. Practice like you play.
Repair and Update Decoys
Always check your decoy spread before every season. Those decoys take a beating after every season. Lines break, decoys get shot, paint chips, and flocking fades. This is the perfect time to fix those decoys from last season. Make sure all your lines are solid and ready to go and there are no frayed anchor lines, because the last thing you want on opening day are decoys floating away. A good way to fix those bullet holes from last season is to go to your local Walmart and find some JB Weld for those small bullet holes. For repainting and reflocking, Herter’s sells a great decoy painting kit for most species of ducks.
Clean and Tune Up Your Boat
If you’re hunting in water the last problem you want to have is your boat not running properly. Before every season check your motor, clean your carbs, look for any small leaks, and make sure your boat is ready for the water. Before you head out for the season, you should always take your boat out for a test drive to make sure everything is running and working properly — trailer lights, engine, boat lights, bilge pump — and you have everything you need in your boat to be legal on the water.
Clean Your Gun and Practice Shooting Clays
Don’t be that guy or girl who doesn’t shoot all summer long and expects to hit every shot he takes opening day. Make sure you clean your gun before every season. If trying new ammo this season, be sure to pattern your gun — yes not all ammo will pattern the same. As waterfowl hunters, our gear takes a beating. To keep your gun performing at its best, you need to take care of your shotgun. Clean your gun and get out this summer and shoot some clays with your buddies to get some practice in before the season.
Touch up your Blinds
Blinds come in all shapes and sizes. But there is one thing all blinds have in common, and that’s being brushed in. Before you head to your favorite spot or that field you're getting ready to hunt, make sure your blinds are brushed in and ready to go, because a good hide is everything.
Clean and Repair Your Waders
The season is finally here; you and your buddies cannot be more excited to get out and hunt. Don’t be that guy or girl who didn’t check his waders all summer long and now you're soaked. We’ve all been there. It's OK, but don’t be that guy or girl. Check your waders before the season starts and make sure there are no leaks. If you find a leak and don’t want to spend the money on a new pair, you can find repair kits on Amazon.
Continue Training Your Dog
Just like everything else, your main sidekick is no different. Don’t leave your partner in crime hanging during the off-season. Make sure you are getting your dog reps during the off-season. Dogs need to get in shape for the long season ahead of them. Not only does running drills help them get in shape, but it’s a great way for you and your best friend to spend time together. In the summer, water work not only serves as excellent exercise, but it also keeps your dog enthusiastic about retrieving, because we all know our dogs love the water. Just 30 minutes of drills every evening after work is plenty of time to get your dog back where he or she needs to be for the start of the season.
Sharpen Your Hunting Knife
A great hunting knife is like another appendage. It works with you and makes any job easier. And though we’d hate to jinx your hunt, we do hope you end up with a pile of birds ready to be cleaned. Touching up the blade on your hunting knife will make sure it's safe, efficient and in prime condition for harvesting birds. Similarly, once your birds are processed, give your hunting knife a thorough cleaning before putting it back in its sheath.