|The kids are back in school, the sun is dropping a little lower in the sky each day, the 2000 football season is well under way, and triple digit temperatures may finally be a thing of the past. For many people these are simply signs that fall is on its way, but for Nevada sportmen they are signs that hunting season has finally arrived.
This is especially evident by the number of empty shelves found in the local sporting goods stores. Before they go afield, however, hunters should take time to properly prepare for the rigors that await them.
"Now is the time for hunters, and those who will accompany them, to prepare for the upcoming hunts. Time spent in preparation now can save many problems later on," said Les Smith, wildlife education coordinator for NDOW.
In Nevada, a hunter's vehicle is a virtual lifeline and must be in top condition. Before leaving town, hunters should have their vehicle checked out to ensure it is mechanically sound. Mechanical problems in remote areas of the state can leave people stranded for an extended time period and in some cases that could spell disaster.
The vehicle's tires shouldn't be overlooked. If they aren't in condition to meet the demands of the trip, replace them. And don't forget to carry at least one spare.
Hunters should also make sure they are prepared physically for the rigors of the hunting experience. "A daily exercise program is time well invested and will go a long way toward making the hunting experience an enjoyable one," said Smith. A sportsman owes it to the game he hunts, to himself and to those he hunts with. Nothing can put a damper on the fun of a hunt faster than a wind-sucking hunting partner or injury.
Because hunting is a very rigorous activity, and is often done at higher elevations, older hunters may want to see their doctor for a physical prior to going afield. "Hunters need to be aware of their individual limitations and pace themselves accordingly," he added.
Weather conditions can change rapidly during the fall so outdoor sports enthusiasts should pack for all the possibilities. For instance, Smith explained, loose cotton clothing and brimmed hats are perfect for a warm clear day, but wool fabrics would be the better choice when the temperatures become cold and snow begins to fly.
Quality footwear is also a must, especially in Nevada's rough terrain. Hunters shouldn't skimp when it comes to buying a good sturdy boot, and the boots should be broken in long before opening day. Stiff, new boots can lead to painful blisters, sore feet and a ruined hunt.
Pre-hunt preparations should also include a thorough review of the regulations governing the taking of the game that hunters will be pursuing. These can be found in NDOW's free publication, the Nevada Hunt Book, available at retail stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses or any Division office.
"The responsibility for knowing the regulations lies with the individual hunter," Smith advised, "not with the hunting partner, parent, or game warden."
Another important tool for sportsmen to have and know how to use is a quality topographical map of the area they plan to hunt. If time and resources permit, hunters should do some preseason scouting and become familiar with their chosen area. This is especially true for those who will be hunting in an area new to them.
Likewise, a thorough knowledge of one's equipment is essential to both safety and success. Sportsmen should spend a significant amount of time practicing with their firearm to ensure it is properly sighted in and also to become familiar with its operation.
"Shooting a firearm once or twice a year just prior to going hunting is not enough. Each hunter must be aware of their own limitations and abilities as well as that of their firearm," Smith said.
According to Smith, anyone going into the outdoors should carry extra food, water, blankets, clothing and other supplies just in case they have to spend extra time in the wild. "Any source of surface water in Nevada should be considered as contaminated and should be purified before consumption. Water carried in from an outside source is the best alternative."
A survival kit is also a good idea. When selecting survival gear one should keep in mind the following needs: shelter building, fire building, water purification, first aid and signaling for help. The types and amounts of items being carried will depend on the individual and whether a person is car camping or backpacking.
Preparations for a safe outdoor adventure also include filing a trip plan with a responsible adult. A trip plan can be as simple as filling in the blanks behind the 3-Ws: tell that responsible person Where you are going, Who you are going with, and When you are leaving and when you expect to return. By following these simple steps, anyone who becomes lost or stranded can generally be found within 24 hours after they were scheduled to return.
Copyright © 2000 J & D Outdoor Communications. All rights reserved.