August 15, 2012 in Sports

Landers: Hunters’ to-do list includes putting things off

By The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Outdoors editor and columnist Rich Landers.
(Full-size photo)

If you’re too busy to be fully prepared for a hunting, fishing or camping trip, join the crowd.

Modern lifestyles aren’t necessarily conducive to being a complete outdoorsman.

All the apps you can load on your Smartphone aren’t going to get the job done.

With archery big-game seasons opening in two weeks, bowhunters should be slinging arrows every day, morning and evening, to be ready for what might be a one-shot fleeting moment to fill a tag.

A friend whose family has a permit for backpacking in to the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness said Monday he was concerned that his conditioning might not be up to the challenge. He’ll have to schlep a load over Aasgard Pass and out the relentless trail from Snow Lakes.

The permit was issued last spring. The hiking trip is next week. He just started worrying about it last weekend. Time’s up.

There’s no pill for being prepared.

A big-game hunter worth admiring told me how he reacted to drawing a bull tag for a coveted unit in the Blue Mountains.

Mastodons were still on the big-game species list the last time he’d drawn a tag.

When he finally found one in the mail, he got to work nearly three months before his nine-day season would open.

His usual daily runs were supplemented with hikes carrying a pack up and down steep hills. He’d hunted in the Blue Mountains. He knew what to expect and he devoted time to being ready.

But he’s rare breed.

Life is too short to purposely play Russian roulette with the next big outdoor opportunity.

None of us has enough fishing days allotted to be without fresh line when the bite is on and the fish are big.

We’re not blessed with enough lives to be without a life jacket when the boat capsizes.

Little things can count big, like having spare batteries for the flashlight when the best-laid itinerary stretches into darkness – or having Benadryl in the camping first-aid kit when one of the kids is breaking out in a rash and losing her airway after a bee sting.

Pushing a bicycle 5 miles usually ends the stalling on buying a new tube of tire repair kit adhesive.

Intestinal parasites are a nagging reminder that you should have purchased a water purifier before the backpacking trip.

With a little bit of forethought, it’s just as easy to head into the woods with a map, compass and matches in your pack as it is to go without these essential items.

Still, we procrastinate.

A saw should be tucked away in any vehicle that ventures deep into the forest. I promised to get a chainsaw after a close call last summer when I barely inched my pickup around a blow-down tree blocking a remote forest road after backpacking in the Clearwater National Forest.

So far, I haven’t.

When I squeezed the trigger on my .270 one cold October morning in Montana, the rifle went “click,” and a nice pronghorn trotted away. The bolt apparently was fouled with oil, rendering the firing pin spring too weak to detonate the primer.

Although the rifle worked fine after a little fiddling, I vowed to take care of that problem, to avoid a repeat.

Haven’t done it yet, but I will.

I did replace the Ford pickup’s tread-poor tires, upgrading to 10-ply, but not until I had TWO flats at the SAME TIME on a rough, rocky road high in the Bitterroot Mountains.

New pickup tires are not cheap, but neither was the $500 towing bill.

I kicked myself for not patching a little leak that developed in my fishing waders while steelheading late last fall. I was reminded in March that the water is even colder in early spring. I could fish longer and catch more fish if I were comfortable in the water. I’ll get it done.

I’ll make sure my bird dog’s training is up to speed and he’s in top physical condition before the chukar season opens.

I’ll gather all my loose shotgun shells from the pickup, shell vests, garage and lunch box and sort them by shot sizes so I’m not tickling wild cock pheasants with No. 9’s.

I’m going to be sure there’s a razor-sharp edge on my knives before the elk season.

Boots oiled? I’ll get to it.

Instead of just zeroing in my big-game rifles this year, I’m going to make time to practice shooting from the kneeling, sitting and off-hand positions.

The Kevlar canoe will get waxed, the skis will be tuned, and I’m setting aside time to read all the outdoor magazines that pile up in my house every month.

Everything is going to be ship shape, finally, I swear.

If not this year, then next year for sure.


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