The countdown to opening day is on. Are you ready?
Hunting season is fast approaching. For many hunters, early archery season starts around Labor Day weekend. In Idaho, archery season opens on August 30, and that's just a couple of weeks away. It's getting down to the wire, which means it's time to do any last-minute prep to get ready for the season.
With the excitement looming, it's easy to overlook some of the basics. Below are five last-minute tips to make sure you're ready.
1) Get your practice in
With the #AnArrowADay Challenge in full swing, archery practice has been more top-of-mind. Shooting daily, even just a single arrow, will help you prep for when you get an opportunity in the field. Take a video of your practice sessions and compare it day after day to ensure your form is consistent. If you have a bad day of shooting, check your video to see if you can determine if you're doing something different that might be causing you to be off. And while backyard practice is better than nothing, if you have an archery range nearby, make sure to shoot there too. This will likely allow you to shoot at different distances and angles so you can be better prepared.
2) Do a final gear check
The last thing you want is to be gathering your gear the night before the opener and realize the batteries in your flashlight are dead, you're missing a glove, your wind indicator bottle is empty, or your knife isn't sharp. So go through your gear now and get your opening-day pack ready. This will give you time to fix or replace anything that is broken or missing and make sure you have everything you plan to take.
Also, try on your camo! It's true, and as much as we hate to admit it, we might have gained weight over the strangest year we've ever experienced. Try on your camo and make sure things still fit, because sitting in a tree stand or blind all day or hiking in the mountains in pants that are digging into your waist just isn't comfortable!
3) Stock up on snacks
Top priority here! Snacks are a necessity for hunting, and personally, I get tired of cold-cut sandwiches every day. So instead, I look for other types of food to carry in my pack that will be nutritious, filling, and keep me energized for hiking in the mountains. One of my favorites is jerky because it's a good source of protein, it's lean, portable, and, well, delicious! I always make a fresh batch of elk or deer jerky to keep a bag in my pack for every hunt. We also make homemade charcuterie (i.e., pepperoni, soppressata, and chorizo), so I slice that into thin pieces to eat with cheese and crackers. Additionally, I stock up on trail mix, string cheese, energy and granola bars such as Mtn Ops or Nature Valley, and dried fruits.
4) Check trail cams one last time
If you haven't made the switch to cell cams yet, you still need to check cards to see what's in the area. Don't wait until the day before! Every time you check your cams, you put your scent in the area, which can potentially spook animals. So do your final card and battery checks about a week before opening day to allow time for your scent to disappear and to get a good idea of what might show up opening day.
5) Update your navigation
Although I'm pretty familiar with the areas I hunt, I use BaseMap for mapping and navigation to track my hikes, get a visual of the topography, and mark spots that I might want to come back to later. Before opening day, make sure your app is up-to-date with the latest version, download any offline maps you might need when you're out of service, and set up location sharing so your family or hunting group can see your location.
No matter how, where, or what you're hunting this season, being prepared can only help you in the field. With just a little extra planning and focus, you can be 100% ready for opening day!
What are your last-minute tips to get ready for opening day?
Sarah Honadel is an avid outdoorswoman from Kentucky, now living in Idaho, who enjoys hunting elk, deer, turkey, pronghorn, and waterfowl. She is a team member at Huntress View, Pro Staff for Browning Trail Cameras, and Brand Ambassador for the BaseMap app. Follow her on Instagram @waddysarah and @arrowridgecreations.