Spring turkey season has ended, and with it any relief from the scorching temperatures that are already invading peninsular Florida. We're not even half way into may and it's already hitting temps in the 90's. Weather like that can make it hard on a duck hunter who wants nothing more than to get back to duck hunting.
With the summer down time in mind, here's a few things you can do to make the off-season go by faster and keep yourself and your gear in hunting shape.
Now is the time to get your decoys repaired and repainted for the next season. There are 2 products I use to repair decoys that have been shot up over a long season of hunting. The first is a hot glue gun which I use to repair errant shot holes in my blocks. The hot glue easily fills the holes and binds to the plastic without any prep work, making them water ready instantly.
The second product is JB Quick. I use it to repair cracked keels and torn anchor loops. Mix just enough to cover the area you want to repair, apply and wait 4 minutes. It's that simple. No sanding needed and you can drill your holes back out for your anchor line quickly.
As for painting decoys, less is more. Don't worry too much about detail. Just get some Krylon and hit the broad stroked. The differentiation in color and bold patterns are more important than the fine details some of your blocks originally came with. AS long as it looks like a duck and has the same markings as what they expect to see, you shuold be just fine.
Clean it inside and out. That includes the threads on your choke tubes. cover everything in a light coat of teflon infused oil. I prefer Tri-Flow to just about anything else on the market. It inhibits rust, will not hold dirt or grime, and can not freeze up on you in sub-zero temperatures.
While you're at it, make sure you also clean your gun cases. You would be amazed at how many guys neglect this part of their equipment and never realize that some of these PVC lined, water-proof cases actually hold marsh water for months at a time. No sense putting a clean gun back into a wet, hostile environtment to sit and rust away.
And while we're talking about guns in your down time, one of the best things you can do for your gun and your pattern is to take it to a gunsmith and have that forcing come smoothed and elongated. This will reduce those stray pellets from your pattern and make for a much better shooting gun all around. The good news, it's also one of the least expensive things you can do to make your gun shoot great.
I know summer time is for fishing, but you really need to get some trigger time in as well. Make time to get out on the range and practice your shooting skills. The hunter that spent a month shooting in the summer will go through far less steel shot early in the season than the guy who just broke his gun out the week before opener. Stick to sporting clays and stay away from trap shooting. Trap shooting is too repetitious and teaches you very little about field-applicable skills.
If you can check these things off your list this summer before the season is in sight, you'll be well on your way to more time afield and less down time during the season. Prentative maintenance goes a long way to ensuring a successful season.
Good luck. God bless. And hope to see you all out in the Marsh this fall.