When hunting season comes to an end across the country, the time comes for hunters to store away all of their hunting gear until the next year. However, is this storing of hunting gear being done properly and in a way that when the next hunting season rolls around everything is in place and ready to go?
Year after year hunters spend hundreds of their hard-earned dollars on hunting gear such as clothing, scents and lures, calls and many other hunting accessories that promise to make a hunt more successful and most importantly, more enjoyable. As the season approaches, hunters begin unpacking their stored gear from the previous year in preparation for another hopefully successful year. The last thing we want as hunters is to be in a scenario in which we unpack our gear, only to realize it has been damaged from rodents, has molded, or perhaps we have a realization that something we thought we had left there the previous year is not where we assumed it would be. No matter the situation, it is easy to see the importance of preparing our gear for storage after the season is over. If you will follow these few tips, you will be able to begin the next hunting season organized, prepared and ready to hunt.
The number-one thing that is usually damaged or lost during the beginning of the season is our hunting clothes. To prevent this, proper maintenance and storage is crucial. When preparing my hunting garments for storage, I prefer using the same method as when getting them ready to hunt. The first step I take is to wash all of my clothing in a scent-eliminating detergent such as Code Blue’s D/Code Unscented Laundry Detergent. This includes jackets, shirts, pants, gloves, facemask and even socks and under garments. Once all of my garments are properly cleaned and dry, I store them in a scent storage bag, usually sorted by early season and late season gear.
I sort my gear by the stages of the season so that all of my gear will be organized and readily available when it is time to use it. Hunters will want to use a bag designed to keep any unwanted odors from coming in or going out. I prefer using Scent Lok’s OZ Chamber 8K and OZ500 combo duffle bag. This is because once I have packed all of my clothes in the bag, I run a 30 minute to hour long cycle of ozone treatment from the OZ500 generator. This complete scent-eliminating regimen is done due to the fact that I do not want any unwanted odors to be concealed for a period of time that could cause the odors to absorb into the clothes even more.
I also make sure I DO NOT use any cover scents such as fresh earth wafers, or actual cedar and/or pine branches. I have done this in the past only to realize that the smell was so strong it was actually a disadvantage when the time came to hunt. I want to have a cover scent when hunting, however, I do not want it so overpowering that is alarming to wildlife instead of doing as it is designed to cover up my human scent.
The next step in my strange routine is storing the bag of garments in a proper place. Hunters will want to store bagged items in an area that is climate controlled all year long. Storing clothes in a garage or in a shed could result in too much moisture absorption. This in turn causes mold and mildew that can be harmful to humans as well as developing many unwanted odors that can become almost impossible to remove at a later time. The chances of rodents damaging clothing is also increased when storing in out buildings or in a garage. By storing in a climate-controlled basement, extra closet or extra room in your house, the chances of clothing becoming damaged decreases dramatically. I have even placed moisture absorbing packets, or a box of baking soda near my clothing to help absorb any type of moisture that could develop over time.
Proper cleaning and storage of shoes, boots, and waders is also a must. It is important to clean all footwear of dirt and mud, then dry completely before storing away. By performing this method of cleaning and drying, it eliminates the chance of damage that can occur if dirt and debris are left on for an extended period of time. As with clothing, I prefer using a scent-eliminating soap to clean all hunting boots and waders. Once they are dry, I will then store them in a plastic tote or in a scent storage bag, similar to that of what my clothes are stored in. This eliminates any damage from rodents as well as visits from unwanted snakes or spiders that love to make a home in dark places when an item is not being used for an extended period.
Storing Hunting Accessories
Other common items that hunters will store during the off season is a wide variety of hunting accessories. This can be anything from grunt calls, scents, optics, game cameras, as well as archery and/or firearm accessories. With hunting accessories, I prefer to store them in small plastic storage containers that are easy to label so that I know what is inside. As with my hunting clothes, I store all accessories in a climate-controlled area. This takes away the risk of moisture, which again, can cause harmful mold and mildew.
Another added bonus of storing items in a climate controlled area is that there is virtually no risk of any gear freezing during the winter or getting too hot in the summer, which can damage certain items such as game calls. Hunters will also want to make sure that any type of electronics that contain batteries, such as game cameras, electronic callers or scent control devices, are removed before storing for an extended period of time. This eliminates damage from corrosion that can build up over time. Storing firearm accessories such as ammunition or powder used in muzzleloaders or when reloading is also items that need to be stored properly, this eliminates the risk of obtaining moisture which can cause certain items to be unusable or dangerous if used after being damaged.
Proper storage and maintenance of all hunting gear during the off season not only helps with being organized when the time comes to hunt again, it can also prolong the life of one's gear. The need to replace items due to damage from not being properly stored season after season could be a costly mistake, yet with a few extra steps and a little extra time, the hunter will be able to enjoy their hunting gear for many seasons to come.