As hunting seasons open, good hunters prepare

On your mark, get set, go! It's hunting season! By the time you read this, many of us will have spent the night at a deer or duck camp. Deer season (modern rifle) opens in Louisiana (Area I) Nov. 17.

For some of us, time spent before at our camps has given us a jump start. We have our food plots, for the most part, up and growing. Rights of way, shooting lanes and traveled roads have been bush hogged. Deer stands, tree houses, blinds have been researched.

Just last week I slipped off to our place in Madison Parish. My plan was to put an aerosol can of insect spray in each box stand. I found very few signs of any living insect.

I had a 22 Hornet, a fair-to-middling pair of field glasses and a current newspaper in the Toyota, so I just got in a stand named the “Outhouse.” Hoping to see a generally familiar sight, a coyote, I commenced catching up on the printed news. The weather was near perfect for just idling a few minutes.

After about 30 minutes I noticed a humming kind of racket. It really sounded like a cotton picker, but the ground was much too wet for any kind of farm work. Directly I noticed a wasp in one of the windows. It was then and there that I discovered two wasp nests in two corners of the stand. Between the vertical poles and the corners right at the roof lay the hummers.

If it weren't for my cat-like reflexes, they might have got me. I hope a pretty good hit of Gunk spray and a bug bomb made the stand safe for its next occupant.

Bottom line: Check your stands before being left to be bit by something.

I hope almost everyone has shot the firearm intended to make the opening day. Rifle shooters, shoot the same ammunition while sighting in and while hunting. A good general rule of thumb for sighting in the vast majority of high-powered rifles: on at 25 yards, a freckle over 2 inches high at 100 yards, and back dead on somewhere around 225 yards.

Using a variable power scope, i.e. a 3X9, set the scope near 6X. It's not a good idea to use one extreme (3X) and then fire on something at 9X at your range limit. We have probably the best firearms, optics and ammunition, but things can go wrong. Get out and at least shoot your rifle.

Don't forget your ATVs. They are probably some of the most abused pieces of equipment any of us fool with. They are expected to crank and run in freezing weather. We pile stuff on them until nothing else can be strapped down, and then we expect them to run in gumbo soil when it's just right.

Give your machine a new drink of oil, grease it up, check the brakes, install a new spark plug, and check the battery. Ever heard that “click-click-click” noise when you hit the starter button? It will happen at 6:15 p.m. at the farthest stand from the truck.

When you get all that checked out, find the air box and change the air filter. Nothing will ruin an engine quicker than a faulty air filter.

Duck hunters: Pray for a freeze up “North.”

Hunt safe. Hunt responsibly. There will be another day. Never get in or on a motorized vehicle with a loaded firearm. Of all the ignorant things you will do in your life, do not get in or on a motorized vehicle with a loaded firearm and shoot a family member or friend. Nothing we hunt in North America is worth a human life.

If you get a chance, take a kid fishing or hunting. For that matter, take anyone. One doesn't have to kill to enjoy our outdoors. Some of the best meals and friends are made “at the camp.”

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