The month of July is already here, that means that the doe’s have had their fawns and bucks are starting to show good antler growth. This is the time of year that all of us hunters stay out of the woods, but this does not mean that you should not be thinking about hunting or preparing for the upcoming season. It’s just July 9, 2011 that means there is only 74 days till opening day of bow season here in Maryland. I like to use the month of July for not only vacation, but it is also a good time to do some preparations for the upcoming season.
Here are some of those things you should be thinking about in the upcoming month of July.
With bow season being the first hunting season, you should think about starting to shoot your bow and get your arms back in the swing of shooting. This is also a great time to fix any problems from last season. Make sure you check the condition of your string, depending on how much you shoot your string should be replaced every 2 – 3 seasons. A great way to tell if your string is in need of replacement is if your sting gets those white fuzz as many like to call it, or string fibers coming off and waxing your string only makes them go away for a few shots. The other telltale sign is to check the ends of your strings where they go around your wheels or cams, this is one of the first places a string can fail. Also, check your cables, they too can get damaged and could leave you without a bow or injured should one break. I find July to be a great time to see all the new accessories for the upcoming year as they are released. This would be a good time to upgrade any of your accessories on your bow. If you are shooting a crossbow, everything mentioned above applies, but shooting is less important as it requires less conditioning of your body.
I also normally take the month of July and get all of my knives sharpened and ready to go for the season if they were not sharpened at the end of last season. If you use a gut hook on any of your knives, unless you can sharpen it yourself a lot of places will not sharpen it. Normally, you have to send it back to the manufacturer for sharpening and it can take weeks to get back. I know Buck knives has a great page that tells you how to sharpen knives of all kinds including ones with gut hooks. They will also sharpen all of their knives for a nominal fee if you send them back to them. Here is the link for both: http://www.buckknives.com/index.cfm?event=about.sharpening#
Treestands are also always a good thing to check on. Many people do not think about these things. If you use a climbing treestand, make sure all of the bolts and clips in good working shape, no rust or chipped paint. Now is the perfect time to fix these things so you can get rid of unnatural smells before hunting season. Does your cable need replaced? This is what keeps you in a tree, so if you think it has been compromised in any way, REPLACE IT. If the coating on the outside which normally is just shrink tubing is getting worn or is coming off you can put another layer on for a pretty cheap price and it is something you can do yourself in a short period of time. Also, check your seat to make sure that there are no rips or torn seams that need fixed. Lastly, check to make sure any of your pull cords, or other safety / packing cords are all in good shape and do not need replaced before the season.
If you use a ladder stand, it is always best to check all the bolts and make sure they are all in good shape, if you see any signs of rust you should replace them. Make sure you get the same bolts, some of the hardware is rated for weight limits and if you get cheap bolts it could land you on the ground. Also, ladder stands commonly get chipped up, so now is a great time to go ahead and paint them so the smell goes away before you want to put them in the woods.
If you use a lock-on stand, check your cable or chain that holds it on the tree. I have seen these break before. Thankfully, I have not seen someone fall rather just the stand itself. Check all the nuts and bolts and similar to other treestands, address any chipping paint. The last and most important thing to think about on these stands, is if you use tree steps. All tree steps have an expiration date on them, this is a law. If the date has passed throw them away, and if they show any signs of rust throw them away and replace them. Most people I know, including a manufacturer that I talked with recommends you replace them each season if they stay in the tree year round. Otherwise note the expiration date when you put them in use and replace them before that date is up.