Hardcore waterfowlers I know do one of two things year-round: they're either planning to hunt or hunting in season. You too?
Loads and Guns: Much of what we waterfowlers do is planning fueled by anticipation. Keep your head in the game before duck and goose seasons arrive. Reloading shotshells is an off-season pleasure as is cleaning the shotguns you take afield. It's analogous to a person tying trout flies in winter (when we're duck and goose hunting!). A consistent effort to both generate a range of duck and goose loads for the coming seasons (possibly a lost art in these modern days), and breaking down all of your firearms for cleaning will prepare you for time in the blind. Do it now, not later.
Dog Duty: How's your canine buddy doing? If you hunt spring turkeys too, conditioning your duck dog has likely been on the to-do list. While you've had your seasonal fun, chances are that retriever has waited patiently at home, tail wagging as you sneak out the door to chase gobblers. With only summer between you and fall hunts, it's time to keep both of you in shape. Run (or walk) together on a regular basis, harness and lead doing their job. Throw that bumper for your canine hunting buddy. Get that team mindset now.
Gear Check: Are those decoys in need of a paint touch-up? Do it. Not an artist? Order some more here in the off-season. Maybe you want to buy a new call or two just to keep you busy during downtime? It's also time to contact landowners who give you permission to hunt their properties. Renew that friendship. Lock down access now in the off-season. Plan ahead.
Nesting Action: As you read this, waterfowl are paired and doing their thing. Soon duck and goose broods will hatch. A ride on your Yamaha ATV or Side by Side to specific nesting locations-with binoculars in hand to keep your distance-might just be the antidote for the late-spring blues. Get on your four wheels. It'll do your waterfowler's heart good to see breeding pairs, and ducklings and goslings in the off-season. The enjoyment had while riding is a bonus.
Waterfowling Conservation: Attend a Ducks Unlimited banquet. If you're not a member, consider joining. You'll meet other duck and goose hunters like you, and maintain off-season interest by attending fundraisers to support the species we all love to hunt. Click on www.ducks.org for more information.
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