Tips for a Stress-Free Hunting Season
With hunting season gearing up these are the ways I make sure it the next five months are a success and I am still married come March. The list is easily adaptable to football and basketball fans.
Get your home in order
Shut down the yard for the winter. Lawn mowed, weeds trimmed, patio furniture and hoses put away. Winterize your home inside and out. Fix the things that need to be fixed. Buy salt for the driveway, make sure your generator and snow blower are working and cover your exterior faucets.
De-stress Your Work Life
If you can get caught up or ahead at work, do so now. Put in for those hunting-related vacation days if you haven’t already and have a list for your department manager when Jan 1 rolls around. Dazzle your boss during the fall so he will get off your back during the winter. Clean out your email and make sure your Inbox is at zero every Friday when you go home.
Get plenty of sleep
Listen to your body. I mostly just hunt on Saturdays now. If you hunt on Sunday, sleep in and head out later in the day. And if you were up with the sun on Saturday – it’s amazing how good a nap feels that afternoon.
Take care of your gear
Clean your gun. Wash your hunting clothes. Wipe the mud off of your calls. Take care of your gear and it will take care of you.
Get your auto in good shape
Make sure all maintenance is current. Put on new wiper blades. Put on snow tires (if necessary). Keep a tow strap and a $2 plastic drop cloth in the trunk. Spread the plastic out when the dog is extra muddy or you’re about to put a dead deer in the same place that the wife puts her groceries.
Keep your gear organized
This is a big one for me because I hunt several different animals during the winter. I like to know all of my upland gear (including shells) is together and likewise for my deer accessories, waterfowl equipment, etc. I accomplish this with 5-gallon buckets. I label the buckets for each game animal and then the gear all gets stowed away for the next time. Items that I use for multiple game animals go in a separate ‘General’ bucket.
Respect the ‘honey-do’ list
One of the most important tips. If you keep up with your chores around the house (including changing diapers and handling bath time for those of you with younger kids) it’s amazing what your spouse will tolerate. Fall behind and you might be spending a prime weekend painting the guest room.
Variety is the spice of life
Hunting fatigue will sneak up on you. I fight it off by switching gears frequently and trying new stuff. A late-season morning of squirrel hunting in the snow helped break up the goose hunting grind last year.
Have a Weekly Routine
Usually Sunday nights are when I’m getting ready for the work week so during hunting season I usually designate an hour every Monday evening to get my gear squared away. I dump the stuff that needs to be washed in the dirty clothes pile and re-organize my equipment for the next weekend.
Take Care of Your Pooch
Dogs get worn out during hunting season too, especially in cold weather or when covering a lot of ground. Feed them quality food (fresh meat, vegetables and high-end kibble). Also, don’t feel bad about leaving them home once in a while. They will be upset for about 5 minutes and then they will go back to bed. Keep them warm in cold weather and cut your hunt short when they start to show signs of too much cold exposure.
Have Other Hobbies
Hunting is awesome but if you do nothing else it starts to feel like a job. Take up a second hobby or enjoy the ones you have. Spend some time in the wood shop or enjoy some video games.
Don’t forget your family
For years I have heard te term ‘hunting widow’. This phenomenon is a symptom of a hunter who doesn’t have his priorities straight. Let’s remember folks – your spouse or significant other is your rear echelon. They often do your laundry and keep the kids quiet while dad naps after a cold day afield. It’s your job to show your appreciation. Make sure you give them at least 75% of your weekend most of the time and if they need more, you owe them a good dinner or a movie (or both). Our simple rule at home is pretty much whenever I am not hunting or sleeping on the weekends during hunting season – I am at my wife’s disposal. That means errands and the dreaded trips to Target if need be – but in return I get all the time in the field I need. It’s worked for us.
This post was first published in 2011 at The Big Stick.