Another waterfowl season is fast approaching. We all know that means it is time to start preparing for opening day. Yes the to-do list is long and time-consuming, but proper preparation can make a more enjoyable opening day experience.
By the time season ends, many hunters simply store their decoys, despite their current condition. Now is the time to inspect every decoy and repair or discard any that are damaged. Ducks constantly inspect and clean their feathers. It only makes sense to guarantee your decoys are clean as well. When you wash your deeks, use only water, as many different soaps, can leave an unnatural sheen on them.
While washing, check your decoys for leaks. Submerge the decoy in a bucket of water and gently squeeze it. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Note the hole location for repair. To repair, first drill a hole slightly larger than the leak to help evacuate any trapped water. Once any water is removed apply epoxy adhesive or silicone sealant to the hole and allow it to dry. Silicone is often easier to apply, but epoxy is typically more durable. The choice is yours.
In addition to keeping your decoys clean, you should also keep their paint in good condition. With a little elbow grease and time, you can breathe new life into your faded decoys. Several sporting goods dealers offer decoy touch-up paint kits. You can often save a little time and money by purchasing paint from a local craft store. A little time, a few paint brushes and a steady hand can have your decoys ready for another season.
Over the last couple of years, layout blinds have become a staple for many hunters. Preseason inspection is a necessity. Leaving a layout blind laying in the floor of a garage or hanging in a shed can attract mold and possibly unwanted pests. Utilize the summer sun to eliminate any moisture and let the air remove any nasty odors. Set up and clean out your layout blind. Inspect, repair, or replace any damaged or missing attachment pins and hinges. Now is also the time to touch up the paint and remove any shiny spots. A fresh coat of mud applied to the material is easier to add during the warmer temperatures. (As a side note, placing a couple of unused dryer sheets inside your layout blind during storage can deter mice and rats from taking up residence.)
In waterfowling, the best way to ensure the cheapest route to the blind is to provide routine maintenance for your motor, boat, and trailer. When inspecting your boat, look for wear on the bottom and the chines and inspect the welds or rivets for stress damage. If you find any damage, repairs should be made by an experienced boat welder. Inspect and touch-up the paint. Bare aluminum will shine like a spotlight in the sun. If your boat has the spray-in bedliner coating on the interior, now is the time to inspect and repair any chipped areas.
Test your outboard motor well ahead of waterfowl season. Major repairs can be time-consuming and should be performed by a qualified marine mechanic. Most routine outboard maintenance you can perform yourself. Routine maintenance should include flushing the motor, changing the oil in the lower unit, replacing the spark plugs, inspecting the fuel lines and fuel tank, etc. Inspect and repair any damage to your boat trailer. Inspect the tires for wear and replace as necessary. Inspect the winch and winch line. Test the trailer wiring and lights. Inspect the trailer hubs and lubricate the bearings. This is also the time to inventory and inspect boating safety equipment, such as life jackets, paddle, rope, and floatation device, fire extinguisher, emergency siren, etc.
Preseason is the time to test your waders for leaks, test your calls and inspect your guns. You do not want to find out the hard way that your waders have a leak as you feel 30 degree water flooding in. You do not want to wait until that first group of greenheads is circling your decoys to discover your prized duck call sounds more like a dying rabbit than a duck. You also do not want to wait to learn your shotgun will not cycle the killing shot or holds one too many shells when the game warden checks your equipment. (State Regulations).
As the summer heat melts away any thoughts of pitching decoys into the frosty water, another waterfowl season is fast approaching. With all of your gear stored in several places, the near future will require its usage. It is nonsense to wait until the last-minute to discover a problem. Take advantage of the warm summer months to ready your gear for opening day.