By Don Mallicoat-
It’s hard to believe but hunting season is just around the corner. Hunters out there are all getting ready for the season opener, whether it’s dove and goose on September 1st or archery deer a week later. As part of that preparation we are getting out equipment that we may not have looked at since last season and performing all the needed checks. If you are a dove hunter get the shotgun out, clean it, and make sure it has the right choke tube. Hopefully during the off season you have been able to get in a little shooting practice. In addition to the gun, it is time to get out the shooting stool (or if you don’t have one buy it). I’ve stood/squatted/sat in a dove field without one. Believe me; it’s worth the $20 investment. Also make sure you have plenty of ammo. The average dove hunter uses three shells for each dove they harvest. Do the math: for a 15 dove limit, that’s two boxes of shells and I suspect that number is low. I carry three boxes into the field. I know the big box stores sell the value boxes at a cheap price but my money goes with high velocity game loads in 7.5 shot. They may cost a little more, but experience tells me they are much more effective at putting dove on the ground.
If you will be hunting with a retriever get the dog out early mornings or late evenings for some exercise over the next few weeks. A well fit dog will be in much better shape to handle the hot weather and excited activity of a dove field. Same goes for the early season goose hunter. Don’t look at the early season as a time to get the dog in shape. Also on the day of the hunt be sure to pack plenty of water for you and the dog. And if you are a goose hunter who plans to float the French Broad for geese remember to check your personal floatation devices (PFD) for each person and replace any that may be damaged. August is also a time when the archery deer hunters are out in the woods scouting and putting deer stands in place. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Home From The Hunt™ safety campaign is reminding hunters to be cautious when setting up tree stands prior to deer season. “Every year someone is injured in a tree stand-related incident before deer season opens,” said Travis Casper, state hunter education coordinator. “We need hunters to practice tree stand safety at all times, not just during hunting season.” If you are scouting a location or trimming shooting lanes and putting up your tree stand, even on a trial basis, use the same precautions you would during hunting season: Use a full body safety harness, maintain three points of contact when climbing, follow manufacturer instructions, have an emergency signal, and tell someone where and when you plan to go. Also remember to use a lineman-style belt in addition to a full body harness when first putting a tree stand in place. This minimizes the chance of falls and potential injury. As with any piece of equipment, tree stands need inspection before use. Long-term placement, such as leaving your tree stand up from one season to the next, has some inherent problems that outweigh any convenience. Exposure to the elements will damage straps, ropes and attachment cords, and potentially lead to breakage and failure. Also, trees are living, growing things and change over time, affecting stability. “If you have a tree stand that has been in place for an extended length of time, take it down,” Casper said. “Inspect it. Replace rusted bolts, frayed straps or, if needed, buy a new tree stand. Your life could depend on it.” With the recent rains streams and rivers are flowing well and fishing is still on the minds of a lot of folks. Let’s turn to our friends at Curtis Wright Outfitters for their weekly stream report (www.curtiswrightoutfitters.com). If you are thinking of hitting the Davidson or other streams, water is low and clear, and should stay that way until it pours again. When it is low, use long leader and 6x tippet. When the water is up, try stoneflies, streamers, midge larva, and midge emergers. A large caddis may get a rise too. We’re also getting into terrestrial season, so consider using an ant, inch worm, or even something bigger, with a dropper underneath.