Here it is! Only two weeks before rifle season opens in Missouri as well. The long anticipated Deer Camp is just around the corner and there are a million things to do to get prepared. It seems my biggest quandary is just finding all my stuff! Like, where did I put my binoculars? I use them for deer hunting, turkey hunting, and bird watching, so where did I use them last? As I get older, it seems that I spend more time looking for things than I do using them!
The minutia of planning menus, assembling gear, shopping for batteries and groceries has a tendency of getting in the way of the really important things. Here is my list of my really important things of deer camp.
1. Buy your tags.
Almost every year someone in our group shows up the night before opening morning and suddenly remembers that they forgot to get their tags. This epiphany is then followed by a mad dash to town. In our instance, that is a long way! It’s about 30 miles to the nearest Walmart, which is the only place that will for sure be open. Don’t let that happen this year. It can certainly ruin the fun and camaraderie around the camp fire or wood stove that is such an enjoyable part of the deer camp experience. The Missouri Department of Conservation, and many other states as well, now have tags available on line. Missouri even has a smart phone app that lets you buy permits and check in your deer. If your state requires a printed transportation tag that can be a problem if there is no printer available
2. Sight in your rifle!
Just because it was on the mark last year doesn’t mean that it will be this year. I’m ashamed to admit it, but this actually happened to me! But only once! I learned my lesson quickly. Several years ago, I used the excuse that I just had not had time to check my rifle and it bit me in the butt. In the afternoon of opening day, I had a nice buck and doe run across a field and stop on the edge and stand broadside a little less than 100 yards from me. Looking back on it now, I’m sure it was a record buck! Close to being that 30 point buck of legend! He stood perfectly still and let me shoot at him three times then he sauntered off into the trees. To say I was chagrinned was an understatement. My scope had been bumped and I was about 4 feet low at that distance. A lesson well learned.
3. Spend some time in the woods scouting.
Don’t make a ruckus, just quietly scout your hunting area. The leaves are falling and opening up the woods making it easier to spot fresh rubs and scrapes. As the rut comes into full swing patterns change. Be sure you have your stands in the right place. Look for those choke points between bedding areas and feeding areas. The bucks are looking for the does, so know where the does are living. I have personally had more success hunting doe bedding areas than I have trying to pinpoint a buck. If the does are there the bucks will come.
4. Check your gear.
Make sure you have your ammunition ready to go. I make sure that my shoulder bag has all my necessary equipment packed and in place well before opening morning. In addition to ammunition, have you knife sharp and a drag rope in place as well. Don’t forget snacks and water. Stay away from spicy and smelly snacks that might spook a deer. I actually carry two bags. One is my survival/ emergency kit. The other is my field dressing and hunting necessities kit. I have in recent years added a Leatherman multi-tool to my field dressing kit. The saw is great for splitting the pelvic bone and the pliers and small surgical steel blade can both come in handy as well.
5. Prepare your hunting clothes.
The changeable weather we have in Missouri can present a challenge. The last few years the weather has varied greatly. I pack my heavy cold weather gear as well as a mesh upland orange hunting vest and a mesh backed summer orange cap. I have many times had to use both in the same season. Deer season is not the time to break in new boots. Foot blisters can ruin an otherwise great season. And finally, make your clothing as scent proof as possible. Wash your clothes in scent eliminating detergent and bag them up in scent free plastic bags. I like to add a few sprigs of pine or cedar to the bag as well. Cooking smells can ruin your hunt so keep your clothes bagged in your truck until you are ready to put them on and your chances of spooking the big one are decreased.
Be safe and have an enjoyable hunt. And don’t forget, send your pictures to deercampmagazine.com.