Here in Texas we are a "bow only" hunting family and use archery gear not only during the Archery Season but during the General Deer Season as well. However, whatever method you choose to hunt it is important to inspect all your gear prior to the hunting season, cleaning, and giving everything a good tuning up, esp archery equipment. The last thing we need is a hunter getting injured when it can be prevented.
For shotguns and rifles, make a really good inspection of your weapon and give it a good cleaning before going afield. Make sure you check for any barrel obstructions, makes sure that the action is functioning properly,etc. Inspect your ammo. Make sure that you are carrying the correct shot shell/cartridge for the shotgun/ rifle you are going to be hunting with. The last thing you need is the wrong shell to get into your weapon and when you shoot it blowing up your barrel and you become injured.
For scoped rifles check to make sure your reticle is not broken, all the screws and your base and scope rings are secure and site it in just to make sure your still zeroed in.
If you are using archery gear, inspect your bow, arrows and all the accessories that go with your bow.
Local archery shops like, Archery Country (Ausitn, TX), Double G Archery (Georgetown, TX) and
K.C. Outdoors (Spicewood, TX), can service most all bows for a minimal cost.
The last thing you need is to pull back your bow and a string or cable comes apart, you drop away arrow rest (Trophy Taker Rests) is not raising or falling correctly, then when you activate your release (Tru-Fire Releases) it doesn't open smoothly or you realize your (HHA Sports) sights needed to be re-adjusted when you see your arrow veering away from its intended target. Not a good feeling when something goes wrong when it could have been prevented way before getting in your stand.
All broadheads (Magnus BuzzCuts) need to be inspected and the sharpness checked. Even broadheads that have just been sitting in the (Kwikee Kwiver) quiver all year needs to be inspected for sharpness. Arrows cn become dull in the quiver just by the blades rubbing on the quiver inserts. Most all broadhead (Magnus Stingers) blades can be "touched up" with a sharpening stone or a sharpening tool such as a AccuSharp Knife Sharpener.
Get the camo (Feather Flage Ducks in a Row Camo) out and get it washed in some scent elimination detergent (Tink's Odor Eliminating Detergent) and put in a carbon bag (Tink's Carbon Bag) or a RubberMaid type tote that you can seal and prevent odors form getting to your clothing. Don't over look your hunting boots and hunting bags either. These items are equally as important as your camo clothing.
Blinds, Stands and Safety Gear
Another important thing to check is your hunting stands, blinds and safety gear. It should go without saying that any worn or used safety gear/ harness should be replaced. Your hunting stands should be inspected for worn or damaged parts and if parts are damaged they should be repaired or replaced before using them.
Any time you are hunting from a elevated stand please wear a safety harness to prevent serious injury from falling. Think about your family, wife, kids, etc!
Don't forget that those pop-up ground blinds need to be checked out too! The last think you needs is a scorpion or some spider falling on you and stinging you before first light on opening morning.
Ground blinds should also be checked every time you start to get in them for snakes or other critters, possum, coons, or spider monkeys that may jump out at you are make you hurt yourself! Okay, I'm not sure if we have feral spider monkeys, but you get the point.
Pre-Season Practice SessionsI highly recommend getting out the range and shooting a few rounds onto a quality paper target or sending a few arrows into a 3-D target (Delta/McKenzie Target) to get dialed and ready for the opening season.
I know most dedicated archers as well as gunners are practicing through out the year. We shoot 3-D tournaments, 3-D targets at home and hog hunt during the off season to keep our skills up. We are always inspecting and maintaining our gear during the "off season" and if something goes wrong we can address most all serious issues way before the season starts.
The Texas hunting licenses are on sale now and the beginning of the Dove Season for 2/3rd of Texas starts September 1st, 2012. Don't wait until the last minute to get a license.
If you are in need of a Hunter's Education Course check the Texas Parks and Wildlife's Hunter Education Classes of their website. Every hunter (including out of state hunters) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Course. If you are not able to complete a Hunter Education Course you may receive a one time deferral.
Hunter Education Deferral cost is $10 and allows a person 17 years of age or older who has not completed a hunter education program to defer completion for up to one year. A deferral may only be obtained once and is only valid until the end of the current license year. For more information about a Hunter Education Deferral view the Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education website.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife has a list of locations that are offering a 2-Day Hunter Education Course, I also am a Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education Instructor and would be willing to hold a small class of a minimum of 5 students, just Contact me and we can set up a class. Class cost is $15
Hunting Season Start Dates
For a complete listing of seasons by animals visit the TWPD website: Texas Hunting Season Dates by Animal, but here are a few to get you started.
Dove Season will begin Sept. 1st, 2012 North and Central Zones and close Oct. 24th. and Sept. 21 will open the South Zone and will close Oct. 28, 2012.
Archery Only Season: Sept. 29th-Nov. 2, 2012.
Youth Special Season: Oct. 28 and 29 and Jan. 7th-20th, 2013
General Deer Season: Nov. 3rd- Jan.6th, 2013, for North Texas counties (212 counties) but for South Texas counties (30 counties) the season will end Jan. 20th, 2013.
For those of us that may not have access to private land to dove hunt check out Texas Parks and Wildlife Annual Public Hunting. There are thousands of acres through out Texas to hunt dove once you have purchased a Annual Public Hunting Permit for $48. Once you purchase a APH permit the TPWD will send you a booklet that lists all of the public hunting areas in Texas. This is the 2011-2012 booklet in PDF format.
One of the area that I take my boys is Granger Lake Wildlife Management Area for dove hunting and I have bow hunted hogs there before as well.
Remember to inspect all your hunting gear and equipment, have a current hunting license on you at all times while hunting, know the bag limits and any special requirements when you are afield this year.
Be safe and good luck this season!