Friday, March 26, 2021

Tales from the outdoors: Five tips to make your sporting outings more effective and fun

By Bob Chapin

For the most part, duck and goose seasons overlap each other. As a hunter, you want to be prepared for either species as you never know which will come to your decoys or which you may stumble across in a jump shooting situation. Shell belts have become very popular for storing your shells while providing ready access to them for follow-up shots or to change loads to match the species available.

They also facilitate carrying them around with you as you scour the bogs. However, once the shell is loaded into a belt loop it is near impossible to determine whether it is a duck or goose load. The manufacturers don’t give us much help either as the markings that tell us what size load it is, how many drams of powder it contains and whether it is steel or lead shot are on the sides and tend to rub off after a few outings.

In the excitement of an approaching flight in low light conditions how do you know if the round you are pulling out is what you want? One solution I have used involves painting a stripe across the metal or primer end of my goose shells with White Appliance paint…the small bottles that come with a paint brush in the cap. I know at a glance which ones to pull when the geese approach.

It seems like no matter what kind of footwear I wear on hunting outings, leather boots, knee high rubber boots, or waders my feet would always get cold when on stand and not moving much. Now, when I get ready to leave home, I tape a chemical hand warmer to my socks right under my toes with masking tape. The chemical sacks stay put until I get my foot into a boot and they are small enough not to bunch up and hurt my toes. They make triangular toe chemical warmers that come with a sticky side to do the same thing, but I find they are not large enough to remain warm for the entire outing. You may be tempted to use duct tape but I caution against that as the heat may cause the stickum to transfer to your sox and when they go through the wash they will become permanently sticky…word to the wise!

Scarves and neck gaiters, particularly the polypropylene kind, are a great contribution to your cold weather gear. They come now in various camo patterns to complement the rest of your ensemble and can be worn up or pushed down as needed. They can even replace a lost hat to keep your ears warm and as gloves in a pinch. With our recent COVID mask wearing experiences we are all used to the face being covered why not be warm as well!

Archers often save a group of arrow shafts for their hunting loads and use the rest of the dozen arrows that come in the box for target practice to minimize the variations in arrow flight. Even within the saved arrows they will number the shafts or light-colored vanes of the straightest arrows so that they are assured the highest probability of true flight.

They measure them on a straightness jig to the thousandths of an inch. Even the manufacturers have caught on and marketing materials declare what the variation in straightness they “guarantee” they will have out of the box. Do not trust these claims…measure them for yourself and mark your arrows accordingly. The measuring gauges are relatively inexpensive and the cost of failure to fly true on a costly elk hunt is immeasurable.

Most folks like a hot beverage when they are sitting in a blind or on stand in the cold of a winter morning. Many lug a 24-ounce or greater thermos with them and at the end of the hunt are still lugging half the liquid around with them. Years ago, I switched to a 10-ounce thermos and I find that it holds all the liquid I need at half the weight. It has a push button stopper in it so I can pour without fear of the liquid rushing out and overrunning the small cup lid. It makes quite a popping sound when released so when on deer stands, I unscrew the whole stopper to avoid the noise that would not be necessary in a duck blind. It makes for fewer nature calls as well. I taped the barrel of mine with camp duct tape and spray painted the ends to avoid glare.<

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