Prepare for Upcoming Seasons 


by Bill Cooper

Yes, I’ve shot my crossbow and have hunted squirrels in the early-morning heat of August. However, there is a ton of preparation needed to get ready for the deluge of hunting seasons, starting with the dove season opener September 1.

An estimated 400,000 hunters will be afield in Missouri for the opener, and thousands will suffer some kind of disappointment because they did not prepare properly for the popular event. Failure to spend time sharpening shooting skills will affect most distraught dove hunters.

Doves are tough to hit; they dart, dive, careen and perform unbelievable aerobatic antics to avoid danger.

“When the shooting starts, doves wise up quickly,” said Josh Driskoll, owner of Dirty Rice Outfitters, in Gobler, Mo. “It takes the average shooter five shots to down one dove, so a lot of doves survive their first encounters with humans. However, they wise up quickly and turn on the afterburners at the report of a shotgun soon after the season begins.”

Other maladies hunters face include the late-summer heat and the biting insects. Many forget their bug spray and many realize they have left their water in the truck. But there are dozens of issues that are because of a lack of preparation.

“I try to be ready,” says Greg Richardson, an avid dove hunter. “But if I carried everything I might need, I’d need a dump truck to haul it all. So, I stick to the most important items like a spare shotgun, plenty of shells, water and a stool. I pack the extra gun and shells for my son, Joe.”

Preparing for dove season is relatively simple if you do it ahead of time. Do not forget to make sure the plug is in your shotgun and be sure to pick up a migratory bird card.

Teal season arrives a little over a week after the dove season opener, and you’d think that hunters would be in great shape for needed items after experiencing the first days of dove season. But this is not so, says Rick Ply, who lives south of Rolla.

“I always forget something I need for opening day of any season. I support the notion that opening days are for getting ready or at least that is how it works out for me.”

Getting ready for that teal season requires even a little more planning than the dove season.

Boats and batteries need to be checked and any necessary repairs need to be made well before the teal opener. Decoys, lines and anchors need attention too. Lines will be tangled, anchors will be missing and some dekes will not float.

Bowseason for deer is only weeks away and begins September 15, and numerous gear problems can plague the unprepared bowhunter.

“I see it on a regular basis,” said Danny Sanazaro, owner of Fanning 66 Archery Shop. “Most guys get prepared well before season, but there are always a few who wait until the last minute to make repairs or purchase necessary equipment.”

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Failure to practice shooting is also a common problem according to Sanazaro.

“Pulling your bow back, setting your sights on target and making a smooth arrow release should be second nature—done without a thought,” he stated. “Opening day is the best opportunity at getting a shot because deer are not alerted to your presence in the woods yet. Being anything less than prepared is asking for failure and keen disappointment.”

Of course, well-prepared hunters tell the best stories.

Gary Klossner prepared for an upcoming bow season back in 2015 to the hilt.

“I cleared part of my property for a big food plot, got it planted, practiced with my bow, and then put in the time on my stand early in the season.”

Payoffs are sweet and Klossner reaped his rewards.

“It was early season and hot as I climbed into my treestand,” Klossner says. “I was sweating terribly; I actually took my shirt off. I hadn’t been there long when a big buck entered the food plot and turned, quartering toward me.”

The buck closed the distance, but had realized Klossner was there.

“I could tell the buck caught my scent. The buck tucked its tail and turned, quartering away from me, presenting a perfect shot at 17 yards.”

He says he settled in quickly  because he had done it hundreds of times in practice.

“I double-lunged my biggest buck to date.”

Luck happens, but Klossner’s kill was not good fortune; it was the result of months of preparation and strict attention to detail. I suspect he will repeat the process many more times.

Fall turkey season, gigging for suckers, managed deer hunts, regular duck and goose seasons, the conservation order for light geese—all are coming in due time. Each requires special skills and equipment. But those who prepare well ahead of time are the guys and gals who are most likely to harvest their fair share of fish and wild game. August is the final time of the late summer to prepare oneself for the seasons to come.  MWO