With many pheasant hunting seasons just ending, this is a good time to review the past year and make resolutions on how to improve the coming one. As with all lists, it’s more personal than professional so feel free to use or modify.
- Take inventory – Grab your game bag, vest, or ammo can, and empty them out. Start sorting by shot size, type, length and even make if you picked up a variety over the year. This will let you know whether to keep anr eye out for big deals on shot shells or put those dollars toward other needed equipment.
- Journal – Don’t freak out, this is not a catalog of secret thoughts, theories and feelings. It’s a way to remember where you were, the weather of the day, and whether you saw and bagged any birds there. That’s it. When next year rolls around you’ll have a reference about where to go and where to avoid. To take it one step further, add any trophy photos as a good way to psyche yourself up for the next season. Also include the name of the owners if you hunted private property and drop them a thank you (at the very least) for the access.
- Organize – Open that duffel bag and pull out all your upland pants or base layer items, socks and shirts. Then, take time to look over what you wore and what was brought along out of habit, not need. If you have outgrown or didn’t use it this year — or last year, year before, etc. — pass it on or toss it out.
- Research – Pick up a map or two and review where you were and perhaps where you might want to go next year. Many state wildlife departments have a good assortment or check out GPS mapping systems and apps that will provide detailed public, (state and federal) vs. private land boundaries. Find and read articles about on shooting tips, shell choice, and dog training. The sources are plentiful and will help keep your fires stoked up to opening day.
- Finally, Scratch (and share) the itch — If the year ended just a little too soon due to schedule conflicts, weather, health, whatever – consider getting out to a game farm and introducing a new hunter to the sport. Go ahead and groan if you want and call this “shopping not hunting” but the benefits outweigh the remarks. It’s a good chance to fine-tune your shooting, work a dog and bring a new hunter to the sport in a safe, controlled environment. They’ll get the sense of how a dog points, birds flush, and demonstrate proper gun safety — all necessary skills to pass along before the next season starts.