As opening day approaches in November for most states, we have put together this list from seasons of experience to help you be as prepared as possible for the start of a new season.
- Remember what you needed in early season.
Did you hunt early goose or teal this year? Try to think back to anything you realized you didn’t have then. Did you have all your chokes? Shells? Totes? If you haven’t gotten what you need, take care of it ASAP.
- Renew licenses and stamps.
Make sure to have your state license (including any waterfowl or conservation licenses), federal duck stamp, and state stamp if necessary. These are important not only for legal purposes, but for providing essential funds for conservation efforts. Try not to leave this to the night before opening day or worse, on the way to your duck hole.
- Check everything firearm-related.
It’s tough to shoot ducks without a gun. Make sure your gun is clean and ready to shoot. Hopefully you’ve gotten some practice shooting skeet during the off season or during early goose/teal. If not, and you’re a turkey hunter, make sure to take that extra full choke out! Also make sure to check on shells, the presence of a plug (if the last time you shot was during the spring snow season), and if you break down your gun, make sure that none of the parts are missing.
- Test your waders.
The only thing that can ruin opening day quicker than a sky buster is a pair of leaky waders. If you had holes last year, don’t think your waders magically repaired themselves during the off season. Buy a repair kit, or if there’s too much damage, bag a new pair. Tough to beat Drake breathables- the little bit of extra mula will get you a solid pair of waders that will last several seasons- cheaper in the long run rather than buying a new pair every season or two. Find a pool or local body of water and test them out before opening day.
- Locate most important apparel/gear.
Try to list the things you deem necessary. Think headlamp and other things you carry in your blind bag. Get out all your camo. If you’re hunting colder weather, you might include beanies, facemasks, or gloves that tend to get lost from the previous season. If you don’t have a head-warming device, our Timber Beanie has been a global bestseller.
- Inspect decoys.
On several occasions I’ve spent all night (literally) rigging decoys for opening day. Don’t do it- even a few hours of sleep can be beneficial. Other times, I haven’t done any re-rigging and have tossed several decoys with dry-rotted lines and said good bye as they floated away with the current. Take some time to check your dekes, re-rig if necessary, and re-organize. You’ll feel a lot less anxious when you start tossing them out opening morning.
- Test drive the boat.
Can you tell that this blog is written largely from experience? Trust us on this, test your boat. Otherwise, you may be like our team that got blown across an entire bay at 4am in 50mph winds with five-foot wave swells due to an old, rotted gas line. Get out and drive, preferably while you scout.
- Practice calling.
Typically, birds don’t work to squeaky calling. Brush up on your calling skills. Blow out the dust in between your reeds. Practice. For the sake of your fellow hunters, please don’t go out opening morning and call for the first time in months. The same principle applies if you’ve recently purchased a new call-Practice!
- Locate and/or purchase MLF gear.
The final item on this list is optional, but nevertheless one we heartily recommend! Don’t forget to pack your MLF gear, or if you don’t have any, search our store for hats, hoodies, beanies, and accessories that represent your passion and commitment to conservation this season.
Anything else you would add? Let us know in the comments below. And don't forget to use #majorleaguefowl to let us know how your season is going!
Featured Photo by MLF Field Pro Edward Wall