By Naomi K. Shapiro
"T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house. . ." Whoops, wrong night! Let's change to the day and night before gun deer season opens. You're pumped, and that's good, but don't start hunting quite yet. You've got some preparation to do. There isn't one deer hunt that I know of that something wasn't forgotten or misplaced or lost. And then to have the hassle and huge expense of having to replace even a small item because you don't have it when you most need it, results in lots of gnashed teeth and "expletive deleted" comments. And in this case, you should sweat the small stuff.
What you should have been doing for at least a month is making a list of things that you'll need and want. That goes for anything from medication to food and everything in between. Don't think lists are just for going to liquor store to remind you which craft beer you want to get. It's a lot more than that.
Your list should be particularized… that is one column for food, one for personal items, one for firearms and ammo… stuff like that. That way, you can check down your list, and as you get the item packed or set aside, you cross it off. It really works. And after a number of seasons, you just update the list on your computer, from year-to-year, and it becomes second nature.
There's nothing worse than being out in the woods, and having forgotten something critical. It can ruin an otherwise great hunt. And don't kid yourself, I've nothing against people like the Yoopers who have a sign outside their store in Upper Michigan which says "Tourist Trap." At least they're honest, but you may not ready to pay the proverbial tourist area prices to replace something you've misplaced or forgotten, which usually go by the saying: "Why pay less, when you can pay more… for less!" And fill up your truck with gas before you hit camp or your hunting area. Nothing worse that I know of, when you're heading home, with the deer in the back, and when you can't wait to brag to your spouse or friends down at the watering hole, and then with traffic up the kazoo, having to stop for gas. Think ahead.
OK, you've made it to deer camp. Hurrah! Everybody is pretty mellow. The weather while cold, provided a little snow, so tracking will be easier, and you're ready to go. What to do the night before you get up for the first morning of the hunt? Not that much. Again, it's being organized with a little dash of common sense. Here's what I found has been good to do: Lay out your clothing and equipment in separate neat piles, so that when you do get up and are really anxious, you'll have everything in front of you, not swearing to yourself while looking for your socks.
* If you wear glasses, contacts, or needed medication put them right next to your firearm, so you won't forget them. Same goes for things like your cell phone, license, and the little stuff. The big stuff you won't forget, but you will forget the small stuff and it happens every single deer season. You've walked four miles, and need to take that pill for whatever you may have, and it's not there. Put those things out and available before you go to bed.
*Eat early and go to bed early. You should eat early so your digestion comes full circle by the time you get up - -which may be well before sunrise. Nothing better than freezing your keester off and holding everyone up while you "do your duty" in the woods. Especially when the others in your group are tracking two big bucks that they want to get.
All you have do the day/night before deer season is to follow the Boy Scout axiom: "Be prepared!" Trust me, it'll pay off big time… both in saving money and giving you peace of mind.