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Capitalizing on the off-season to be Prepared and Productive

Whether you hunt, fish or both. Use the off-season to get prepared but also use this time to practice.

  • Jeremy Romero
  • Oct 06, 2021

It’s early morning and you are standing knee deep in your favorite trout stream watching a trout rise for a fluttering caddis underneath a overhang of cottonwood branches or, listening to the bugles of a bull elk as he is approaching through the aspens during your elk hunt. Instead of making a cast that places your caddis in the feeding zone of the rising trout you keep getting snagged and breaking off your flies in the cottonwood branches. When you go to tie on a new caddis you realize you only have one more left in your box. Or potentially worse, that bull elk following his cows just after first light stops broadside at 30 yards only for your arrow to sail inches over his back. Sure, mistakes and unexplained or unexpected events can occur but many can be prevented or minimized. I am going to give you a few tips that will keep you well prepared and productive during the offseason so when fishing or hunting seasons come around you will be ready to hook that rising trout or fill your freezer with high quality wild game meat. 

Instead of just sitting around and watching hunting videos or thinking about your elk hunt. Use this time during the off-season to get prepared. If you hunt with a rifle or muzzleloader. Consider these tips during that down time. 

Ensure your firearm is cleaned and properly functioning. Double checking things like the torque of scope rings screws and bases as well as your firearms zero.
If you hunt archery, take your bow to the local bow shop early in the off-season. Have them clean and tune it as well check for any potential problems like loose screws, cracked limbs or frayed strings. Take this time to replace these parts. If you do replace a string, take your bow back to the shop after shooting 200 arrows or so for a tune up. 
Check your arrows for any cracks or deformities like chips. This can be done by simply bending your arrows while inspecting from the nock to the insert. 
Buy boots early on and spend the off-season breaking them in. This will strengthen your feet over time and help with preventing blisters on those long hikes and heavy pack outs. 
Check your gear and equipment. Look for holes or leaks in your tents, sleeping bag or sleeping pad that could have you waking up on the floor or in a puddle of water. 

If you’re not out ice-fishing during the winter. Consider these tips when waiting for warmer weather. 

Use the off-season to fill that fly box up. Tie your favorite patterns both dry and wet. Tie a lot of them too. It is inevitable you’ll lose some or give one, two or three to a buddy.
Check your waders for holes or leaks. Send them to get repaired or buy a repair kit and do it yourself.
Clean or replace your fishing line. You can clean your line in a sink with some mild detergent and a soft cloth.
Clean and oil your reels. After a season’s worth of use, you’d be surprised how much dust and dirt can get into your reel.
Replace the worn out, sun beaten and ripped net you’ve had forever. Use a rubber net that does not harm or remove the slime on fish.
Replenish supplies like tippet, floatant, indicators and split shot. 

Most importantly, whether you hunt, fish or both. Use the off-season to get prepared but also use this time to practice. Spend the adequate amount of time at the range with your rifle or bow so when you have that opportunity you make it count. A little time consistently invested over the off-season will benefit you in the long run and help in building confidence to make that cast or prevent misses and poorly placed shots that can non-fatally wound an animal. Take the time to practice that roll cast, technique or knots to make you a better angler. Taking these steps keeps you productive during the off-season and prepared for the upcoming fishing or hunting season. Practice brings everything together to make you a more efficient and experience sportsmen or sportswomen. 

Jeremy Romero is the Regional Connectivity Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation


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The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while investing in a backlog of public land maintenance, providing current and future generations the outdoor recreation opportunities like boat launches to access fishable waters, shooting ranges, and public lands to hunt as well as the economic stimulus we need right now. 

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