The spring hunting season is over, and the fall hunting season is still a few months away. It is the months between hunting seasons, the dog days of summer, which causes many hunters to slip into the summer doldrums.
That doesn't need to be the case. Instead of dreaming about the opening of hunting season and the experiences you will make, how about working on your shooting skills or going scouting and hiking to get fit for the upcoming season? That is exactly what I am planning to be doing during the summer months.
The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club (NVFGC) archery range is partially open for action. Archers meet at the range every Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. to fling arrows at targets. It's a good way to socialize with fellow archers and bowhunters but most importantly, to keep in good shooting form for when that big buck stands in front of you this coming hunting season.
I've been invited on a pheasant hunt this fall. I haven't been pheasant hunting in many years and look forward to the experience, but I am sure my wing-shooting skills are very rusty and need plenty of oiling. I know just where to do that. The NVFGC trap-shooting group meets every Saturday at 1 p.m. at the shotgun range for friendly competition and keeping those shooting skills honed.
Last fall, I discovered a set of big mule deer tracks, the size of which would make every hunter's heart skip a beat. Later in the winter, I caught a brief glimpse of the buck but never got a shot at him. This spring, I heard reports of a large mule deer buck in the very same area I hunt; maybe it's the same deer I found the tracks of and saw later. My heart is set at getting him this year. This means many scouting trips this summer to learn about his territory and routines. The buck lives in steep hill country. To have a fighting chance of getting him this year means getting into physical shape.
To get fit, you don't have to become a member of a fitness club, become a weightlifting champion, or run for miles every day, although regular exercise of any kind is good and helps to keep the body in good shape. Walking is what hunters do most, and that is what we should do. Walk often and for long periods, adding weight on your back as your fitness level increases until you reach the level of stamina required for your style of hunting. Just don't overdo it, as it can set you back for weeks when you have to sit at home nursing sore feet and muscles.
Getting into physical hunting shape and keeping up your shooting skills is what will set you apart from the rest. Hunting success is often based on nothing more then walking another mile into the backcountry and/or staying an hour longer and having confidence in your shooting skills under difficult hunting conditions. Summer doldrums is not for me; I am too busy getting into shape for hunting season.