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Most of us rely on our vehicle to get from home to where the hunting is, so make sure you give your vehicle the once over before the serious hunting begins. Apart from general servicing being up to date, it's a good idea to check over your tyres; recovery gear; lighting and electronics - anything that could go wrong out in the bush needs a close inspection!
It's always a good idea to test out your optics and perhaps give them a clean up prior to any hunt. A quick wipe with lens cleaner and a lintless cloth will do the job. Binocular harnesses should be given a clean and checked over for proper fit and adjustment.
To get the best performance and life out of your hunting boots, it's critical to maintain them properly. Most outdoor leather boots require some kind of servicing throughout the year, and there's no better time than leading up to the rut. Check your boot manufacturer' specific advice for cleaning and general maintenance treatments, as these may vary. Leading into the busiest time of the hunting season, it's important that your hunting boots have been properly worn in before you start hunting in them. Test out your new hunting boots and spend as much time in them as you can prior to any serious hunting, this will not only get them worn in but will help to avoid blisters and other problems that can come with brand new hunting boots.
Communications and Power
It's critical to re-charge and TEST any communications or power equipment you plan to use during your hunts. This may include UHF radios; satellite communicators; power packs; solar panels, and any batteries and cables that you may need for use and/or re- charging. It's easy to forget one type of cord or battery and have your whole system fail, so be sure to check over every function and need that your devices serve. If you're using a satellite communicator, check your plan is current and suited to your upcoming hunts, and be sure to test out all hunting gear prior to heading bush. When utilising power packs and solar panels, it's important to test them out to understand their capacity real life conditions before you need to rely on them in the bush - know your equipment and it' limitations!
Practice Real Hunting Scenarios
One thing we often forget to do is practice shooting and maneuvering (as we would in the bush) while wearing our planned hunting kit. Especially important are shirts, jackets, hats or face coverings, backpacks and binocular harnesses. Make the effort to really test out the exact hunting clothing you plan to hunt in, and test out things like your binoculars and rangefinder while wearing your full hunting gear. This will help identify any issues, noises or potential problems before you get into the bush.
Prepare a Hunt List
Smart hunters prepare a full checklist prior to any hunt. This will help to avoid forgetting any important items, which could easily bring your hunt to an unfortunate end! It's a great idea to keep an electronic spreadsheet split into categories, and update it each and every time before a hunt, to ensure it's accurate and customised for each individual hunt. Print a copy out and keep it with you as you pack your hunting gear, and write any last minute notes on it as you pack and travel to the hunting spot.
Do some e-scouting
Most of us use some type of GPS-based mapping system on our smart phones to navigate these days while hunting. It's always a good idea to spend as much time as you can 'e- scouting' your proposed hunting zone prior to a hunt. This will get you familiar with the lay of the land, boundaries, watercourses and types of vegetation cover. For most systems, it's important to cache any imagery you require before you lose cell service, so be sure your mapping is fully downloaded for any area you may end up hunting, before you lose signal.
Test Your Backpack
It's important to test out any new backpacks before service. It's best to fully load the backpack to the weight you expect to be carrying and follow manufacturer's instructions to ensure all adjustments are as perfect as possible. It can be very annoying in a serious hunting situation trying to fix adjustment issues on your backpack, so get to know all the adjustments and understand how they work, before you're in the bush.
Check Licenses and Access
In all the excitement of preparing for the upcoming season, it's very easy to forget some of our administrative obligations. Check and double check any licensing applicable to the state and region you plan to be hunting in, and check out any government department websites for updates. Don't let a simple administrative failure bring an early ending to your hunt! Be sure to check well in advance and ensure your license is valid. Where private land permission is your key to access, be sure to double-check with property owners or those organising access - last minute failures are not fun to deal with!
Check your First Aid Kit
Our first aid kits are often easily overlooked and neglected. Prior to the season getting serious, now is the perfect time to go through your kit and ensure you have what you need in there, and that all items are in date and functional. First Aid Kits should be customised to suit the area and activities, you never know when you'll next need yours so make sure it's ready to go for any situation!