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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Staying Focused in the Off-season

Q&A with waterfowl hunters can help you prepare for next season
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The off-season is a time for waterfowl hunters to take a step back and assess gear, hunting areas, retrievers and guns. This moment of pause also can provide the time needed to fix, organize and maintain your hunting strategy. The Ducks Unlimited Newsletter editorial team chose three avid waterfowl hunters to interview about their off-season tactics. Their answers may help you get prepared for the upcoming season, starting now.

Sorting and organizing hunting gear is far from simple, as it seems to multiple exponentially as the season approaches. The work generally begins with decoys, but can snowball into boats, trucks, guns and dogs. Read how these avid waterfowlers stay focused in May and throughout the off-season.

DU Newsletter Editors:
What are you doing with your gear (boats, decoys, etc.) this time of year?

Martin Hesby
Avery Outdoors pro staff – Brookings, S.D.

In South Dakota, we have waterfowl seasons pretty much from Sept. 1 through the first week of May. So almost eight months out of the year we are actively hunting, which leaves little time for organizing and fixing up our gear. May, June, July and August all serve as essential months to get my gear "squared away" and ready for the upcoming seasons to begin again. I find myself going through and taking inventory of all my gear: What needs to be repaired? What needs to be replaced? What new items do I need for the upcoming season?
Once I have taken my mental inventory, I spend the entire off-season organizing my gear and getting things ready to go for the next season so everything is not an organized mess from where you left off the previous year. Cleaning decoys, blinds, guns, trailers and boats, and making repairs to trailers and other gear, all take time, and during the summer months is the only time to take advantage and totally focus on getting things squared away.

Peter Wyckoff
Ducks Unlimited engineer – Ann Arbor, Mich.

The boat is prepped for fishing season. The blind is taken off and the trolling motor is put back on. The onboard safety equipment is evaluated and any repairs are made prior to putting the boat in the water. Decoys get repainted and re-rigged in September; they are in storage this time of year. I also make a list of supplies that I ran out of during the previous hunting season and budget funds to replace necessary items.

David Rearick
Avery Outdoors pro staff – Butler, Penn.

During the off-season, getting gear ready for the fall is crucial. I typically will go through my decoys to fix and repair any issues and then assess my needs in terms of purchases during the summer months. Then I clean all of my layout blinds, empty out of the footbag and again inspect for potential problems that need attention.

Boats are a whole other issue, as it seems after a year's worth of hunting, there is a lot that needs done. Engine maintenance and tune-ups, fixing the trailer lights and checking things like the battery and bilge pump are all a small part of the process to have my boat ready. I also take the time to clean out a season's worth of grass, mud, spent shell casings and other things that get overlooked after a long day in the field.

Time spent in the field scouting is vital to success during the season, but even during the off-season, scouting, blind maintenance and a long list of odds and ends need to be done.

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