Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cleaning Your Gear Will Help it Last

Preparing for a hunt can be great fun, but in order for it to go as planned you must take good care of your bowhunting gear. I mentioned in an earlier post this year about caring for your archery tackle and what to do to avoid problems. I have had my share of mishaps over the years and thought I’d share some tips I learned. Plus, I wanted to share some simple tips on how to get your kids involved in helping you out. My daughter is almost always willing to help me get ready for a hunt and I’ll admit – I love it! It’s a great way for me to share with her about hunting and caring for your bowhunting gear. While you want your archery tackle in tip-top shape, caring for the little things should be a priority, too.

One of the mistakes I made was not emptying my hydration bladder during the off season and I grew some incredible mold inside. I wanted to take a moment to reiterate the need to keep it clean and be vigilant in proper care. We all get busy, but it only takes a minute to empty, clean and dry the bladder for later use.

My hunting backpack is one of my key articles of hunting gear. It holds all of my essentials, non-essentials, and it has to fit right or your hunt will be miserable. Washing your backpack is something I know I personally like to do, but I am not sure how many others really do this. When I was growing up, I don’t think I ever washed my bag or backpack during the season. Little did I realize that the deer could smell my sweat or the smell of my house each time I hit the woods. I changed my tactics greatly. To begin, when I get a new pack, like this Badlands Point, the first thing I do is wash it in scent-free, UV resistant soap. When I asked my daughter if she wanted to help, immediately she said yes. I figured she would; I mean, what kid can resist getting all wet and playing with water?

For a bowhunter, scent control is a key factor. You can’t have anything on that’s direct from a factory as it will stink! A deer will smell you from a mile away. As a dad, it was a great way for me to explain why I wash my backpack and clothing the way I do. Using a plastic tub, I fill it halfway with cool/warm water. While I am filling it I add my scent-free soap. Filling the tub only halfway allows room for displacement after you drop in the backpack. My daughter was more than happy to drop the pack in the water for a great splash effect. She helped me dunk it a few times before wanting to stop and ask me some hunting questions. After hand scrubbing the pack and then rinsing it, I air dry it over a fence or something outside.

I wash my camouflage clothing the same way, but I utilize a modern washer. Once washed and rinsed, I hang the clothes out to air dry. Once completely dry, I spray them with Permethrin to protect myself from ticks. The next step is one that I do because I am a bit anal about keeping my clothing and backpack scent-free: I use an ozone machine to kill any residual bacteria on them. You will never get your clothing completely scent-free, but I try to get as close as I possibly can. I get my clothes clean within a day or two of hunting as I don’t want smells to sink in. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but properly caring for your clothing will help it to last a very long time.

There are many other examples of caring for your bowhunting gear, but these are a couple I wanted to share. I’d love to hear some of the tips you other hunters have for caring for your gear! My tactics are ever-changing so that I can maximize my ability to get closer to the animals I am hunting. I know that caring for my gear has become essential and I recommend you do the same.

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