As hunters, we all dread that awful day each year when season ends. For me, living in Michigan that day comes right at the first of the year making for one sad and seemingly long start to the new year. During the start of these winter months, I find myself sleeping in, pouring myself into duck hunting DVDs and the outdoor channel, spending any free minute at work I have doing online shopping at Mackspw or Cabelas, reviewing the past season’s trailcam pics, cleaning my guns, blowing my duck calls while driving, and constantly discussing what new gear I need for next season. Even my yellow lab will sit by my side countless hours with her ears perked up and her eyes fixated as she sees and hears honkers flying on that flatscreen. It can be pretty rough knowing that there’s still over more than half a year till you’ll be in a duck blind or up in that tree stand again and after spending the past 4 months enthralled in those true adrenaline rushing and passion defining moments of hunting, it’s not just something you do, it’s a way of life and these post-season hunting blues….or what I call for myself “deer/duck depression”, is a real thing.
And although I miss quack smacking everyday right now, if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years it has been to take full advantage of the off season in preparation for next season and to look onward and upward to what’s coming. And of course, me being the impatient person that I am, this calendar year is looking quite lengthy but there are plenty of things that one can do to look forward to next fall and get through these upcoming spring/summer months fast. Just think to yourself, in the amount of time that you spend sitting around you could be planning/preparing for the best hunting season yet!
How to Cope
Leagues and Target Shooting—Whether you’re a bow or gun hunter, take the opportunity to spend some time at a range or even in your backyard to do some shooting. Joining a league not only opens the possibility to challenge your knowledge and skills but also can help make you better as you interact and compete with others. Busting clays are a great way to keep your eyes in check aiming for moving targets and it can be a fun activity to host a shooting party with a bunch of your friends, I currently have three boxes to go through myself. But all-in-all, shooting can also be just down right therapeutic and stress relieving. I know that when I get to practice and shoot with good accuracy and precision…that is true “group therapy”.
Predator Hunting—As an avid deer hunter, one must keep in mind that the deer can have a pretty tough time themselves getting through the winter months, and with that we all know how predators such as Coyotes and Wolves are affecting the population. So a great opportunity to not only help manage the deer population but also to incorporate some seriously intense hunting action into these winter months is to get out there and take some predators down.
Food plots, Scouting, and Trail Cameras—Keeping along with the motivation of preparing for a better season to come it is absolutely pertinent to focus on quality management of populations in preparing food plots and the growth/development of deer. Also trail cameras are such a great investment to see what is on the property you hunt and tracking whether the same animals are staying around the area. And you can find some pretty decent, reasonably priced ones out there, so I definitely recommend getting a few. This not only allows you to learn more about the animals you’re hunting but also gets you outside more. Do some post-season scouting and get an idea of their travel patterns, I know for me, even post-season my heart rate increases every time I’m driving around town and see some mallards flying by and lock up headed to open water.
Meat Freezer—Now with the season over its time to utilize all that game you scored and cook it up. Test your cooking skills and experiment with different recipes or have a wild game dinner with your friends and family to reminisce the past season. Come up with different ways to prepare the meat, I thoroughly enjoy cooking and definitely utilize the smoker trying all sorts of crazy combinations and new mixes of spices/cures for jerky/sausage. But whatever you do, do not forget about your meat in the freezer. As a real hunter, respect and honor the life taken.
Turkey Hunting—Although stalking a gobbling tom is a few notches down the adrenaline radar from smashing some greenheads for me, that spring strut is still one of my favorite hobbies. It’s a fun and exciting time to test your calling skills as you’re yelping and getting that tom to gobble your way and strut for your decoys. Whether with a gun or a bow it allows me to get out there and enjoy the spring weather, challenging my hunting skills in having to utilize those open fields and hardwoods.
Hunting Expos, Events, and/or Trips—There are plenty of shows and events going on across the country during this off-season time. And even locally, do some research and check out some hunting expos or even gun shows to attend. They’re a great way to meet and network with fellow sportsmen/women that enjoy the very same things you do. It’s also a great opportunity to gain exposure to the latest hunting technologies and new gear on the market. And in addition to that, while you’re socializing and networking with those vendors start thinking about planning your next hunting trip. Those are great places to meet outfitters and check around getting ideas of prices, locations, and everything you need to plan your next hunting trip. I currently have a couple trips I’m planning in the works right now and it is never too early to start mapping them out.
So get out there and look forward to the upcoming season….we have some months to get through but plenty of things to fill in the time with preparation. Always look forward to planning/preparing for next hunting season, for it is the best that is yet to come! 😀