While many of us are burning hours watching “Tiger King,” this downtime can be used be in more constructive ways. Hunters lamenting canceled trips, lost spring seasons, and closed shooting ranges should take advantage of these unusual times to get some things done on the home front and in the local outdoors.
Gun Safe Wipe Down
How long has it been since you’ve pulled all the guns out of the safe and given them a good wipe down with a rag? If you don’t know the answer, time is overdue. If any need a thorough deep cleaning, now is a great time for that as well. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy admiring their guns and reminiscing on past adventures? Just remember to follow safety protocols and check to make sure there’s no ammo still in the guns before handling.
Go Shed Hunting
Take a walk than in the woods while easily maintaining social distancing by getting off the beaten trails and into the terrain of big bucks and bulls. Remote locations are the best places to look for shed antlers. Move slowly and study the land and bring a good set of binoculars to help seek larger antlers in open country.
There’s no better time to practice calling skills than in the offseason. Watch videos of champion callers read books and, best of all, get out in the wilds and listen to the animals in their natural habitat. While continuous wingbone calling or buck grunting in the home can strain an otherwise happy household, all that practice will yield better results come hunting season.
Scout Your Areas
Scouting is something every successful hunter does, but what better time than now to get out and do some wilderness observation. Make this part of your outdoor activities. While you’re shed hunting, make notes of deer behavior and trails. As you tap trees for maple syrup, observe the wild turkey populations. This is also an ideal time of year to begin thinking about trimming shooting lanes, moving stand locations, or mapping the terrain.
Dry Fire Practice
While many shooting ranges are closed during this time, there’s no reason you can’t become a better shooter at home. While you shouldn’t dry fire rimfire rifles, centerfires can usually be done without causing damage — though snap caps are the answer to all those problems.
Dry fire practice allows shooters—and in this case hunters—to get comfortable with their rifle’s trigger while also working on fundamentals like breath control, field hunting positions, and overcoming the dreaded flinch. When the next trophy steps from cover, dry fire practice will ensure the shot is right on the money.
While many of us are spending more than the usual amount of time in front of the TV watching hunting and gun shows, there’s an even richer world to be found in the written word of books. Cut the cord for at least an hour each day to do something off-grid like reading. There are lots of great classics — think “Death in the Long Grass” and “Horn of the Hunter” — but also plenty of wonderful current publications for the modern hunter and outdoors person.
Cast a Line
Don’t overlook the local lake or waterway just because some outdoor trips and getaways are canceled. Many hunters also find happiness casting a line, enjoying the solitude of nature, and catching fish for an evening fry. Even if fishing is not your forte, launch the boat or take a canoe paddle to peruse the shoreline and unwind.
Reload…or Learn to Reload
With many folks now spending more hours at home, these days are perfect to get back to the reloading bench or, for those unfamiliar, to learn how. Whether shotshell or metallic cartridge, entry-level equipment can be acquired at a low cost.
If you’re learning, read a quality reloading book like Phil Massaro’s “How to Reload Ammo” or the more in-depth “Shooter’s Guide to Reloading.” For those who know what they’re doing, organize that loading bench—often no small feat in itself—and get down to business. Reloading pays dividends when ranges re-open and hunting seasons come around.
Plan a DIY Hunt
Instead of lamenting lost hunts and snacking through the refrigerator, how about spending some downtime planning that dream DIY hunt. Oftentimes, studying area topographical maps, using hunting apps, and making contacts with people in the area can help make what seems an impossible hunt an adventurous reality.
Reach out to the chambers of commerce in areas you plan to target and talk to other hunters who’ve done the same. Laying the groundwork with logistics and planning now will mean you’re ready to make that hunt in the future.
Shop for Guns, Ammo, and Gear
What do hunters and gun lovers do when they’re stuck at home and can’t visit their local gun shop as often, or at all? They shop online. Whether shopping for new or used guns, Guns.com is a great place to start your wish list. Throw a couple of new types of ammo in the cart as well.
Plenty of other online retailers offer new calls, camouflage outfits, decoys, blinds, and more. Get the gear now and have it ready to go when things get back to normal.