Hunters looking to get ready

Schools are out for the summer in Randolph County. It is only natural for the kids to be excited about not having to think or even worry about school for the next two and a half months. Just how long it is going to take for this excitement to wear off can be anyone’s guess.

The fall hunting season for some people may seem like it is more than a light-year away, but now is the time for all serious hunters (small and big game) to start getting ready. Youth hunters must have completed a West Virginia Hunters Safety Course. All experienced hunters should be considering purchasing their hunting licenses by this time, if they haven’t already.

The 2017 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations summary should be coming out in July. The sooner hunters can review and understand the changes for this year, the better off they will be.

June is a good time to examine all hunting gear and decide what may need to be replaced or repaired before any hunting season opens. This month is a good time to visit your favorite outdoor retailer to check out the latest in new hunting equipment. Serious deer hunters should be getting their hunting knives sharpened.

The ammunition shortages from the last few years may be something of the past. The popular calibers of various centerfire loads should soon be available at just about any place that sells ammunition. Consider purchasing your hunting ammunition during the summer.

Bow hunters need to be checking their bows and the blades on their broad-head arrows. With the cool weather we are having during the evening hours, this is a good time for all bow hunters to be practicing and keeping their archery skills tuned-up.

The groundhogs appear to be making some kind of a comeback. In years past, farmers would welcome varmint hunters to go after these pests. While these critters may look cute, one groundhog can wreck a vegetable garden in a very short period of time. Here is a good way for deer hunters to keep their shooting skills tuned-up.

While in the open fields and meadows hunting groundhogs, deer hunters may want to check out deer trails and food sources in the wooded areas. Here is where hunters need to leave their firearms in the vehicles, because it is unlawful to carry an uncased or loaded firearm in the forest during the closed hunting season on game animals in this state. While checking out food sources, look for what would be a good place to mount a deer stand.

If the hunters only want to hunt on private acreage, this is the time for squirrel and deer hunters to start talking to landowners to see if they can still hunt on their property. If the landowner says yes, don’t forget to thank them with a a Christmas card and perhaps a small gift of appreciation.

I know that I need to be doing some practicing on a shooting range this summer. First, I need to check the sight-in on the deer rifle I was hunting with last year. I had a broadside shot on an average-sized spike buck at about 75 yards on level ground. I had the crosshairs on the upper lung cavity when I squeezed the trigger and ended up hitting the deer in the heart area. While this was a clean killing shot, I feel that the sight-in on the scope of that rifle needs to be checked out with the type of ammunition I was using.

Practicing is something that all hunters (bow and firearm) could be doing this time of the year. I have always considered the time on a shooting range practicing as “time well-spent.”

Another way to get yourself ready for the upcoming fall hunting season is to try to get a sufficient amount of exercise during the summer. For senior hunters, walking is one of the best exercises there is. The only other exercise that might be better than walking is swimming. Try watching some of the hunting shows on your favorite outdoor channel to get you all psyched up for the various hunting seasons to start.