The season is now over. Maybe it was a successful one, and for those who are enjoying their harvest, congratulations! Maybe you were among the roughly 90% of hunters who’s tag is left unfilled. Not to worry, there’s always next year, and the first hunting seasons of the new year are just a few months away.

Preparation for next season, whether it’s the fall rut or spring turkey, begins now. For the true hunter the preparation never ends. Hunting can always be on our mind, with tasks always to be completed. Clean your clothes and store them in air tight bags and storage bins. Keep hitting the archery range and the shooting range. Be ‘dialed in’ all year. We owe it to ourselves to be proficient and accurate, and we owe it to the animal. Plus, who doesn’t love to practice? If time is an issue, right now we have all year to hit the range when we can to stay fresh. It’s much easier to stay current than it is to re-learn.

Clean your gear, sharpen your tools, hone your skills.

Store what you won’t be using for a while in near-perfect condition. The benefits of this are twofold. First, it allows you to put this season away in your mind and begin to look forward to next season. Whether you were able to harvest or not, you can think back to that cold opening day when you were sitting in your stand or blind, waiting out that deer that showed up on your cameras. You can offer gratitude to both your gear and your harvest for serving you well. There is a catharsis in doing a thorough job of cleaning and storing your hunting gear. Secondly, you will be appreciative next season when it’s time to open up the bin and everything is clean, sharpened, folded, and ready to use. You can think back to this moment, think back to the gratitude, and be ready to hunt without having the arduous chores of trying to clean old gunk from something. Clean it while it’s fresh, and put it away ready for the next season.

Additionally, we are at a great time to shed-hunt, as well as the end of small game season here in Missouri. We can prepare to have an exceptional season starting right now, and still finish strong with some small amazing small game meals. Hank Shaw has a great recipe for Squirrel (and rabbit) hand-pies that can be found here. I can’t wait to take one of these into the field!

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