By Josh Gowan
We are collectively closing in on one of the busiest times of the year for avid outdoorsmen. While serious fishermen are no strangers to arduous preparations before a trip (I’ve certainly had my fair share,) serious hunters work twice as hard and then some. Re-stringing poles and cleaning out guns are comparable tasks, at least in the amount of time it takes, but the importance of the two do not line up. After all, you can’t misfire a fishing rod (thinking back to Chippy’s first bouts with a spinning reel, I suppose you can misfire one, but the repercussions are far less severe!)
Serious deer hunters have already been at it a while, and deer season does not commence for another month. I’ve already seen a bevy of trail camera pictures of velvet racks atop long, lean, golden-brown frames. Highly intelligent creatures are mature whitetail, however they meander through the forest, completely unaware that not only are they the subject of vast photo spreads, they are also named (“ole split tine”, “tall boy”, and “Mr. Mass” to list a few) and their fate has already been decided in the dreams and fantasies of a far superior predator. Our superiority though, is strictly technological and visual, deer being colorblind and without opposable thumbs or easy access to wifi and AA batteries. The moment we step into the woods our advantages are outweighed by savvy old bucks, whose hearing and sense of smell rival hound dogs, and are notoriously adept at hiding. As hunters, our counter, aside from large-scale surveillance, is a small fortune in gear, from non-scent clothing, to non-scent boots, to cover sprays, to unbelievably quiet shooting bows, and so on.
There are plenty of deer hunters that spend their evenings around a campfire in the same clothes they will hunt in, and may go days in the woods without a proper bath. I’m not knocking it and to each his own, it is like most things, it can be as serious and intricate as you wish to make it. We make it quite serious! Showering twice a day and doing more laundry than a New Orleans hotel the day after Mardi Gras, and all for the opportunity at a trophy buck and the accompanying accolades and venison!
The most important part of prepping, at least for bow hunters, is practice. At least a half-hour of shooting per day, 5-6 days a week, until we are automatic, and that starts weeks ago. People that don’t bow hunt (and I hunt for everything) just cannot grasp the challenge, excitement, and level of skill it takes to kill a mature buck with one of the oldest forms of weaponry known to North America. Now granted, my Elite Answer compound bow is a bit advanced from the long bow the Native Americans used on Bison, but remaining silent and making an accurate shot on a 250 lb animal with extra-sensory powers and cat-like reflexes, in close quarters and while your heart is beating like a subwoofer at a techno concert, well, like I said, at least a half-hour per day, 5-6 days a week, until you’re automatic!
A little over a month from now the BassPro Shop’s CrappieMaster’s Classic will be held at Lake Washington, Mississippi. This tournament showcases the best crappie fishermen in the country, battling it out for over $50,000 in cash and prizes. Chippy and I fished the CrappieMaster’s tournament there back in late February/early March and had a blast. We’d never been there before and have never been to the “big dance”, as it’s usually too far away and the cost is staggering for normal working folks! This year finds us qualified for the 5th year in a row, and we have had some help from some of my sponsors in funding the trip. We’ve still got a ways to go though, so just in case there are any wealthy savants that read this weekly hodgepodge of outdoors news, or any local businesses that would like to help send a few “hometown boys” to the classic, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! On a separate note, due to my once manly storage room beginning to resemble the stock room at Pottery Barn, I am parting with some of the “upcycled pallet reincarnations” my son and I have been making. It’s on Facebook, eloquently titled “Crap I Made”, enjoy!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com
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