A successful deer hunt starts in September. And, I’m not talking about the bowhunting season, which opened Sept. 13.
I’m talking about the firearms season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 8. Even though it is more than a month away and we haven’t even had our first frost yet, now’s the time to get ready.
That lesson was brought home last weekend when I went down to visit one of the farms we hunt near Red Wing. I went up the hill from the landowner’s house to check on a tripod stand we used last year and had left set up. Turns out a large branch from a nearby tree had been dislodged by the storm that went through the area in July and was laying across the top of the stand. The impact of the fall, plus the weight of the branch, bent the shooting rail surrounding the swivel chair.
So, we had to make plans to come back and repair the damage. In addition, the landowner said he would like to hunt with us, so we are going to help him get started. We scouted his farm for a good place for him to hunt, plus I’m going to help him sight in his new shotgun. Then, on top of that, we need to sight in our own shotguns for slug hunting.
It’s work, but I enjoy it. We got one of my son’s shotguns sighted in earlier this week and I’m going to work on the landowner’s one next. I belong to a local gun club, which makes this task much easier. With a rifle range that has targets set up at 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards — plus shooting benches — we will be able to sight in our firearms with a high degree of confidence and accuracy. Plus, we can identify any problems that come up and will have time to resolve them.
Such preparation is huge. There’s nothing worse than having a curve ball thrown at you on opening day and coming home empty handed because of it. I know. It’s happened to me before and continues to happen despite my best efforts at preparation. One curve ball this year is the high number of downed trees from the July storm that brought a tornado through the area. My brother went to the farm he hunts and his stand was thrown so far away from the tree it was attached to that he never found it.
So, here’s a gentle reminder to get ready for the upcoming firearms deer opener by doing two important things: 1. Check the land you’ll be hunting, even if you hunt it every year, along with your stands, and 2. Be sure to sight in your firearms, even if you have left them alone since last season, and, especially, if you have left them alone since last year.
The sad truth in deer hunting is that you often don’t get a second chance at a nice deer if you miss the first one.