Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Passing Time In The Off Season

Clean Up Those Old Decoys

Every couple of years I will wash my decoys. It is a great way to make your spread more life like. Most decoy manufacturers are using life like iridescent paints, these paint patterns look and work great if they are not covered up with mud. The simplest way that I have found is to get a five gallon bucket and fill it with water and dish soap. Then with a stiff brush simply scrub them down with the soapy water. You will be amazed at how this simple task will bring new life to your decoys. One other important part of decoy maintenance is checking the anchor lines, and the knots that bind the weight and the keel. Depending on what type of line you use, over time it will become frayed or rot out, and knots weaken. No one likes chasing loose decoys in the middle of a hunt. So keep those decoy lines in good shape. And remember a little super glue on your knots will go a long way.

Start Your Preseason Dog Training

I am sure you have a system in place for your dog's training needs, but if you don't there is an almost limitless amount of literature out there for the dog owner. Now, everyone has different hunting styles and they need their dog to fit the need of their particular situation. For me, I like to look back on last seasons hunts and try to put a strategy in place for what I feel my dogs need work on. If you make a list and try to pin point these areas of training, in combination with general maintenance training, you will be well on tour way to having a top notch retriever.

Tune Up Your Shotgun Skills

Shooting trap, sporting clays, or just having a buddy throw clays with a hand thrower can improve your shooting skills in the field dramatically. The ability to mount and point a shotgun may seem easy, but in actuality it is fine tuned motor muscle memory. Without practice and repetition your shot to kill ratio may be much lower then that of an individual who has spent time practicing in the off season. I don't know about you, but I am not an exhibition shooter by any means, so if a little practice will put a few more birds in the bag I will do it. As a bonus you get to put more rounds through that old duck gun. Every waterfowl hunter I have ever met likes to shoot a shotgun, so get out there this summer and break some clays. I know that my dog wishes I would practice a little more.

I know that there is no substitute for the duck season, but maybe some of these activities will help keep your mind off the fact that we still have to wait four or five months till the opener. It seems like a long way off but the season will be here before you know it. So take some time to improve your odds next season.

Dan Scanlon

Duck Junkie Pro Staff

Southern Wisconsin

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