Prepare Now For Next Season
by Steve Hickoff
If you’re like me, the last day of this past 2009-2010 season’s waterfowling probably came in a hurry. Forget that it started way back in September on early geese. We can never get enough.
It left you happily exhausted, with game in the freezer, and memories (plus fine meals!) to carry you through winter. Don’t hit that couch yet though. Now is the time to return to your mud-splattered gear, and even plan for next season.
Ask yourself these questions: Are those decoys in need of a paint touch-up? Do it. Maybe you want to buy a new call or two just to keep you busy during rush-hour traffic? Get one to keep you in the game.
There’s no better time to check in with your waterfowling contacts around the country than now. How did their season go? Maybe you want to plan for the 2010-2011 campaign? Do it.
It’s also time to contact landowners who give you permission to hunt their properties. Renew that friendship. Lock down access now in the off-season. You also need to think about some TLC for the wheels that helped you on all those hunts. Some Yamaha ATV and Side-by-Side vehicle time is in order:
Did you hose down your four wheels after that final waterfowl hunt, and dry it off as well? If so, inspect smaller essentials such as the lights, switches, brake levers, and especially the spark plug. Clean moving parts, removing marsh mud, trail dirt, goose feathers, and retriever hair from them, and lubricate each one. Turn off the fuel valve and/or drain the fuel tank in the off-season. Don’t forget to run the engine to get fuel out of the carburetor.
Down the road, definitely inspect all nuts and bolts, the brake system, drive chain, carburetor idle, and throttle every time you ride. Lubricate the drive chain, if necessary. Keep that battery charged, and store it in a place with moderate temperatures. New England waterfowlers and California duck hunters have different challenges. Respond accordingly.
Protect your four wheels from dust and dirt on downtime. A storage cover will keep it dry but also shield it from moisture. Keep it in a storage shed if you can, or a garage—anywhere but out in the winter elements. You have it out there enough during the season. Protect your investment.