By Nick Simonson
The minutes are winding down to the start of a new pheasant season, and whatever the destination for Saturday’s opener might be, odds are that a good deal of gear, guns and pet equipment will be headed along for the trip. It has been said that success is where preparation and opportunity meet, so take care of the front half now by using this list of those things which are vital to a successful pheasant hunt and expand on it as you see fit while getting ready for opening day.
__ Shotgun(s). If you have the luxury, pack your primary and a spare and make sure both are in good working order. Go over all the moving parts and check for wear or any issues; tonight might even be a great time to clean and give them a more thorough once over.
__ Ammo. Welcome to the red zone! Odds are that high-demand pheasant loads are getting a little scarce at your favorite retailer, so make it a point to get a box or two of your chosen shells now. If you wait until Friday night or your arrival in that small pheasant town you’re headed to, you might find yourself looking at thin supplies on the shelves or involuntarily trying another brand.
__ License. While ND is an easy-all-in-one purchase, other destinations may require pheasant and public land access stamps. As most licensing is done online, you can bypass the counter and save time by getting your licensing taken care of now via the state agency’s website.
__ Clothes. A mini-checklist all its own, setting out the field clothes you will need is a major part of getting ready. We’re not giving fashion advice, and don’t care what you wear with your field gear, so put on what you want underneath and dress to the weather, remembering that you can’t put on what you didn’t bring with, so pack an extra layer or two.
__ Field Pants. Nothing keeps nature out like a layer of field fabric over your pantlegs. Check to see that seams are in good shape and they still fit after a summer full of great food.
__ Vest. Whether it’s a trusty old standby, marked with splotches and stains from previous seasons, or a brand new option fresh off the store hanger, having a comfortable, well-fitting blaze orange vest with deep pouches will have you ready for Saturday and keep you visible all season.
__ Hats/Caps. Check the weather and bring your favorite blaze orange baseball cap or stocking hat based on the forecast, or pack both just in case.
__ Gloves. Fingered gloves make shooting in the early morning and chilly weather easier and in many cases help provide extra grip on a gun while walking.
__ Boots. Clean off those boots you might have been tromping around in earlier this fall and check laces, seams and surfaces for any wear, holes or damage. Give them a quick spray of waterproofing or a dab of shoe goo over any thin spots if you’re limping them through another season.
__ Dog(s). A hunt without a dog is just a nature walk…with a shotgun. Man’s best friend has a checklist all his own, so don’t forget these important items.
__ Kennel & Straps. Have Rover’s ride ready, secured tightly to the bed of the pickup with ratchet straps or bungee cords to keep it from sliding around.
__ Collar & Accessories. Make sure field collars and their transmitters, along with the proper chargers are packed and ready to go. Charge them up now, so they’re full of juice for the start of the season and plug them in each night of the trip to have them ready for the next day.
__ Food, Treats & Water. Pack enough dog food and treats for the trip and an extra day. Have water jugs and bottles for the field filled and bowls packed up along with them.
__ Meds & Supplements. Ear wash, medicine, pain killers, joint supplements and a doggy first aid kit are always good to have on hand. Stop by the vet and get what you’re short on before heading out of town to keep your pup in tip-top shape.
__ Vet Number. Wherever you’re headed, look up the nearest veterinarian and program that number into your phone for easy access in case of emergency.
__ Miscellaneous. From here you can customize your personal checklist, but what follows are just a few of the items needed for a safe and enjoyable pheasant opener are below:
__ GPS/Maps. Get new batteries in your unit, and pick up or download the 2017 PLOTS guide.
__ Cell Phone. Don’t forget the charger!
__ First Aid Kit. For minor injuries in the field or at the cleaning table and the next day’s aches.
__ Boot Dryer. In case you swamp yourself that first hour of opening day helping on a retrieve.
__ Camera. Capture those memories in the field and after.
__ Lost Kit. As simple as a whistle, a knife and a lighter, it’s always good to have this in your vest.
__ Cleaning Tools. Whether a multi-tool or a knife, bring your bird cleaning gear and bags.
__ Cooler. For storing snacks, drinks and birds, the ice can be used for heat issues with dogs.
One could create a massive checklist to get ready for the season out of the upwelling of excitement for the opener, so make a version as intensive as your needs or anticipation require. Doing so not only helps pass the time before the rooster crows on Saturday morning, but will also have you set for success this weekend and well into the future as it can be used again and again to be certain you’re well prepared for success on every hunt.
(Featured Photo: The Basics and Beyond. Guns, gear and ammo highlight the important items to be packed for this weekend’s Pheasant Opener. Simonson Photo)