How to Keep Busy After Bow Hunting Season Ends
Once our bow hunting seasons close and the winter weather sets in, it’s all too easy for us to just fall into our couches and take the winter off, so to speak. We definitely still watch our favorite hunting programs on television, but that’s about the extent of hunting activity most of us get. Many bow hunters don’t continue practicing their archery form throughout the winter, and most just toss their hunting gear into their basement, garage, or shed to sit until the weather improves next spring. This is a critical mistake.
If you want to stay at the top of your game and keep your gear in tip-top shape, you’ll need to postpone your winter hibernation a little while longer. Make a weekly goal of doing something that revolves around hunting. It could be shooting your bow at 2 to 3 yards in the garage to practice your release; it could also be washing and organizing your hunting gear. As long as it’s related to bow hunting, you’ll get a lot more accomplished over the winter than you might think. Here are some quick suggestions.
Don’t just hang up your bow and walk away at the end of the season. Keep it available and practice throughout the winter. Just take a couple shots each week – that’s all. You do want to give your body some recovery time in the offseason, but don’t want to wait so long that your form gets sloppy. If you can safely practice short shots in your garage, do it! Otherwise, head to an indoor archery range, which will help break up winter’s monotony anyway. Use fun archery drills to keep it exciting and challenge your skills.
Also take time to do any necessary bow maintenance at this time. Make sure your parallel cams are working correctly, all your peeps are aligned, your bow string looks good, and so on. The new Rize bow from Prime has features that will make the maintenance easier, including 82X aluminum risers and a Flexis FlexShock damper for smoother shooting.
At the end of the season, give your tree stands a little tender loving care. You trust them to hold your body weight up in a tree all season, so you really need to take care of them. Replace any old nuts and bolts, oil the metal pieces to prevent rusting, fix any obviously broken parts, change out your ratchet straps, and assess if it is in good enough condition to be used another season. Tree stands are relatively cheap, and they’re certainly not worth risking your life by sitting in an old stand.
Bow Hunting Gear
Many hunters are notorious for tossing all their hunting clothing and gear back into a closet at the end of the season, and there it will sit until next fall. This is a bad idea for several reasons. Primarily, you’ll decrease the useful lifespan of your gear, which is just wasting money. Wash your hunting clothing to remove dirt and potentially blood stains, and be sure to thoroughly dry them before storing in the closet or plastic tote for long-term storage. Clean any other hunting gear, organize them into separate bins or bags, and restock any items you used this season. You’ll be all the more prepared for next season this way.
If you ran a trail camera (or a dozen) over the summer and hunting season, you’ll likely have a pile of pictures sitting on some chips or on your computer. Even if you’re still getting pictures over the winter, this is a great time to organize your other ones. Assuming you did no cleanup during the season, the vast majority of trail camera pictures may be false triggers, or pictures of squirrels and birds, which you can just delete. Organize the rest by date, camera location, and properties if you have several. Also stock up on batteries to replace the current ones for next year, and buy additional cameras or memory cards if you need them.
The winter is when you should think about your hunting property the most. Review your hunting journal to analyze deer movement patterns, food plot success or failure, and generally figure out what worked well in the past season. Using that information, develop new plans for next season. Some tasks to do include: planning out new food plot designs and seed blends, making plans to move tree stands to a new location that offers better deer activity, and updating your list of potential hit list bucks that survived the last hunting season. It’s just a fun way to prepare for next year and keep you thinking about it all through the winter.
Don’t rest on your laurels over the winter. Well, at least not too much. Carve out some time right after your bow hunting season ends to tackle some of these items. Spend some time each week doing the others throughout the winter. Before you know it, you’ll be more prepared for bow hunting next season than you’ve ever been.