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December’s Outdoor Column

The month of December brings us Christmas and sends many of us scrambling to find the right Christmas present.

If you are buying for that person in your life that spends time in the outdoors, the number of possibilities for a Christmas present are tremendous. The upcoming months are going to be cold so outfitting your outdoor person may revolve around the purchase of something that will keep him or her warm in the outdoors. The obvious present is simple; a pair of gloves, boots, jacket, etc.

I encourage everyone to ask before they buy thus making sure the present is what is needed and, don’t forget, your local Big R Stores will have lots of nice items to make your Christmas shopping easy. December makes up a big part of the waterfowl season which is expected to be about the same as last season. Some duck populations have fared well over the years while others have not done as well.

The mallard, the number one duck in the hunter’s bag in this part of the country, is well known to most Americans. Often called “Green Heads”, the mallard is one of the largest ducks using our flyway. The hen mallard is mottled brown with black markings to allow it to hide from predators. The teal, the smallest ducks which come through our area in early September, is a fast flying bird that gives hunters a great challenge.

Waterfowl hunting is tough hunting and requires a lot of time in the cold. Nasty days are many times the best days as is the case many times with early spring fishing. Inexperienced waterfowl hunters need to spend some time with veteran hunters to learn the ropes as, not only is it a tough and cold hunt, but it can be a dangerous hunt.
Which blinds to use and the proper setting of decoys are just some things a novice needs to learn. Staying warm and dry, training dogs, and o shooting techniques are best learned from experienced hunters.

The dangers of hunting around water include drowning and hypothermia so proper care and calculating each move is more important than similar activities done during the warmer months. Being a survivor rather than a statistic is most important to you and your family, so making foolish moves while around water is something you need to consider before you make them. No animal, deer, duck, goose, fish, etc. is ever worth you not coming home so learn the ropes necessary to stay safe while in the outdoors and don’t stray from them!

November’s Outdoor Column

When November rolls around the major hunting seasons of deer, upland game, trapping and waterfowl begin to open.

The seasons differ if you live in Illinois or Indiana so hunters need to be aware of the laws that govern their hunt. Your local Big R Stores offer you most everything to outfit your hunt, whether it be clothing, footwear, ammunition, heaters, traps, or items for processing your game. Making the most of your hunt requires preparation prior to the hunt or the setting of a trap-line.

Don’t fall victim to assuming everything you put up last winter is in tip-top shape for this fall. Check every item you are taking with you and make sure it is ready to go before you head out. Tree stands need to be carefully checked. If you are an archery deer hunter you probably have already done that.

If you haven’t done that yet, do it now while you still have time. Most accidents involving a tree stand happen on the way up or the way down. Check your steps going up and down the tree carefully. Check the strength of the limbs you might use to secure yourself climbing up or down. Check the security of the stand itself to make sure bolts or screws haven’t come loose during the months it has set idle.

Waterfowl hunters need to do the same. Many times, these hunters find themselves out in extreme environmental conditions and, if something goes wrong or doesn’t work, the problems begin to mount for the hunter. Trappers need to have their traps ready to go. This means boiling and dyeing the traps and making sure all springs and triggers are working properly.

Scouting is most important in all phases of winter hunting and trapping. If you don’t scout out your area and just go in cold turkey, you may find your hunting or trapping season is over before it starts. Locating sign, finding feeding, roosting and sleeping areas is a must for most forms of hunting. Staking dens and setting wires ahead of the season can making trapping much easier, especially if it turns bitter cold.

Don’t forget the fishing gets good when the water turns cold. November has long been a good month for taking a big bass, walleye, trout or musky. Big fish prowl late looking for that last meal ahead of the hard freeze. Safety is a must during the cold weather whether you are hunting or fishing. Most accidents that happen to the hunter or the angler can be avoided by using a little care. Don’t become a statistic this winter; live to enjoy the spring!

Outdoors, Hunting, Fishing

SEPTEMBER’S OUTDOOR COLUMN

 September is here and Labor Day Weekend seems to be the turning point from fishing to hunting for many outdoors men. Many will put up their fishing gear and break out their hunting gear once the holiday passes. After the Labor Day weekend, many find themselves fishing on area ponds and lakes totally alone.
If you have smallmouth bass, big bluegill or even crappie in your area, fall is a great time to go after these resources. Especially crappie, since there’s always a good crappie run in the fall. Which makes fall a great time to stock your freezer with fish filets before the hard winter sets in.
Before you pack your tackle away at the end of the season, remember to take a little time checking your equipment over. Make sure you check for broken eyes on rods, bent or broken hooks on lures and reels that need cleaned. Then before you store them all away for the season in a moisture free location, make a list of what you’ll need come spring. If you take a little time now, you can avoid hassles when the season opens next year.
During the month of September, many hunting seasons occur such as Canada goose and teal seasons just to name a few. The waterfowl flight forecast is a great tool for a waterfowl hunter since many species are slightly down in numbers but ahead of the long-term forecasts. If you’re unsure of the season dates for your area, check your Natural Resources website. They’ll have season dates and other information you’ll need on these early seasons.
And if you’re interested in your local youth deer seasons, you can find those dates on your local National Resources website as well as all the requirements. Youth seasons is a great time for dad or grandpa to spend some time with their young hunter and pass down the traditions of the family.
September is also time for trappers to get their license and prepare for the season ahead by boiling their traps, cutting stakes, finding sign and preparing all the equipment to get ready for the season ahead.
Don’t find yourself frustrated with gear that isn’t working, things your forgot to repair or parts you need for this year’s hunting season and next year’s fishing season. Check out your Local Big R stores where you’ll find everything you’ll need to make your hunting, fishing and trapping seasons a success!

 

Man hunting with his dog

Preparing for Opening Day of Hunting Season

Preparing for Opening Day

Attention hunters! You’ve been patiently waiting for almost an entire year to put your ammo and decoys to good use again – and soon your patience will be rewarded. While there are still a few days left before opening day, time’s sure to fly by quickly and there are some very important tasks to check off before the big day. Pass the time with some much needed preparation!

 

Hunting Gear - Prep for Opening Day Blog

Prepare Your Location

Before you can bag any ducks and geese, make sure the spot you have in mind is the perfect location for you to go on opening day. How do you make sure it’s the perfect spot? SCOUT! Visit your location in advance and check out what surrounds the area. Create a checklist of things you might need in response to the environment.  If you are planning on taking a boat out, make sure the water levels are compatible with that. Scouting could be the difference between coming home empty-handed or pulling in the drive with the full bag limit!

Prepare Your Hunting Equipment

It might have been a while since you last hunted waterfowl and small game – your equipment will probably need some TLC. Take your shotgun out of the safe, clean it fully, and take it to a range to get a little practice in. If you are planning on using decoys, make sure you have a new braided decoy cord that’ll be able to rig large numbers of decoys so you don’t lose any of them on opening day. If you plan to use your waders, pull them out and make sure there’s no rot or infestation. Throw out unusable waders and grab a reliable wader (like the bootfoot chest wader found in any Big R) for a successful opening day!

Prepare Your Hunting Sidekick

A hunting sidekick on opening day (and throughout the season) can be a very valuable resource. Your sidekick is your #1 helper and needs to be just as prepared as you. If your ideal hunting spot is in the middle of a lake or river, then you’ll need to have a trusty boat as your sidekick. Examine your boat before opening day to make sure it’s performing at the top of its game. Check the oil and make sure all the levels are correct so it’s running smoothly. Plan to do this soon in case you need to head to the store to grab marine oil or other boating essentials for your aquatic sidekick.

 

Another sidekick you may have out on opening day is your faithful dog! It’s sure to be an exciting day for both of you, which is why it’s essential to prep him for the big day.

Visit the vet for a quick check up to make sure he’s healthy and able to keep up with you. Make sure he’s been treated for fleas and ticks to prevent any unwanted “friends” from making a home on your furry companion. If he has one, pull out his hunting vest and give it a quick check to make sure it’s good to go!

 

Prepare Yourself

Now that everything around you is 100% ready, take some time to make sure you are prepared for that day. Think about what items you need to pack up for opening day. Prep your cooler and stock up on water. Pick out your camo gear and bring along some camo makeup for your face and arms if you’re planning on wearing a short-sleeve shirt. Brush up on the season dates and regulations for duck, geese, or small game hunting in your area to be completely safe and well-informed on opening day. If it’s your first time hunting, pick up a waterfowl ID book to study the different species. So when you’re out there, you’ll know every single species you come across.

 

Opening day will be here soon enough! Use this time to get all prepped for a successful hunting season. Though it may seem like there’s a lot to cross off on your checklist, you’ve got another sidekick to help you out – your local Big R Store! Stop by before opening day and grab all your hunting essentials in one place.