So you've scouted your area for deer sign? Check.
Trail cams mounted, batteries and SD cards ready? Check.
Snake boots still fit? Yeah, it's hot enough around here for that... check.
Deer pee, scent away, salt blocks, deer draw... you get the picture. There's a lot to do when getting ready for the time of year that all of us have been prepping for since last January. No doubt those of you who have already been braving the skeeters, heat, snakes and mud for the last month for archery season have (hopefully) already been through your checklists. But for the rest of us, there's gun season and it's coming up soon.
Take a few minutes now and make sure you don't miss checking out the most important pieces of equipment: your gun (of course), your stand, and your safety harness.
Every deer season we see the news stories, someone gravely injured (or worse) while climbing or sitting in their stand. No doubt some of these could have been avoided by a few minutes pre-season. Let's get into what you need to take a few minutes to verify.
If you use a stationary deer stand, take a minute and look it over. Check everything you can see from the ground. Look for cracks, rust or rotting wood. Make sure the tree itself is not dead or dying. Check for rusty nuts and bolts. Look at any retaining straps and make sure they are not frayed and/or the metal parts are not old and rusty. It is generally a good idea to replace those straps every season, anyway. More than likely there is one more set of straps at the seat end of the stand. If there is any way to get to it without actually climbing up on the stand, do that. Use a climber, or a ladder to make sure that the top parts of the stand are still in good shape and replace that retaining strap. Check your pull cords (used to pull up equipment to the stand once you are in it- wait, you aren't climbing up the ladder with your gun, are you?) and replace if it has been out in the weather since last year.
If you are using a climber then double check all cables, looking for splits, cracks or rust. Examine the seat and the foot piece. Check any tree teeth to make sure nothing is chipped or missing. Hook everything up to the very bottom of the tree and sit, stand, lean, everything you would normally do in a deer stand, to make sure there is nothing that is going to come apart before you get over head height up the tree.
Personally I like to make sure the two parts of the climber are tied together using parachute cord and I replace that every season. Likewise any pieces of pull cord.
Also take a minute to look for wasp nests, beehives or any other types of pests.
Once your stand is ready, check your harness and make sure it still fits, is adjusted correctly and is not frayed and/or split.
Still with me? Ok, here is the fun part. Check your gun. Chances are good it has not been shot since last season. It is a good idea to give it a good clean to ensure everything is still functioning normally (especially the safety). Check visibility through your scope if you have one, and make it out to the range to ensure it is still at zero. Check your sling and swivels, looking for rust or frayed spots or cracks in the sling material. Take a look at your ammo. First, make sure it's the right ammo for the gun (basic, but important!). Second, is it the same brand and bullet weight that you used the previous year? These days, when ammo shortages are a fact of life, there is a good chance it is not- and that may affect your zero. Note that if you don't have the time to check this yourself, call your local gun shop and they may be able to do it for you (This is a service I offer!).
You don't want to see the buck of a lifetime get away due to mechanical malfunction or worse yet, wake up in the back of an ambulance on opening morning. Take a few minutes now and save yourself a lot of heartache later!