How about deer and ducks? Really!

I know we’re only into the first official week of summer amid triple-digit temperatures, but believe it or not now is a good time to plug into this year’s deer and duck hunting adventures. A little forward planning often goes a long way when opening day finally dawns.

While roaming around the Hill Country the past few days, I’ve been checking on feeders and deer stands on a couple of ranches I’ve been hunting on for a number of years. The first stand I pulled up to was not only loaded with yellow jackets, but all sorts of droppings from everything from raccoons to rats. It seems that one of the windows was left open from last season and the critters had taken full advantage of the open shelter.

I’m not that gung-ho on hunting out of stands with windows and doors and comfortable chairs, but inevitably that’s what I end up doing a good bit of time during deer season. And over the past few days, I cleaned up a couple of my favorite stands. I also removed the classic Texas deer hunting chairs from a few stands. You probably know what I’m talking about. These are retired office chairs. They are comfortable and have been the scene of many naps. But if left in the blind from one season to the next, hunting chairs tend to go south in quality. That’s why now is a good time to take your favorite hunting chairs home for a little maintenance. A little oil to remove squeaks about is the best you can do.

Something else you might consider is buying new chairs for the blind. Used office chairs can be found at garage sales and used furniture stores. Now is a good time to buy. As we get closer to the season opener, prices will increase.

Right about now is also a good time to buy deer blinds at a reduced price. Ditto that for feeders. Actually you can buy now and move them out to the lease just to stay ahead of the game.

Another option is to build a couple of blinds and set ‘em up so the deer become acclimated to them. Blinds come in all shapes and sizes. But based on many hours of sitting on stand in the Pineywoods, I’ve figured out that the best and most comfortable blinds are homemade. Some are glorified tree houses. The thing about factory made blinds is that there is always a glitch with them. For example, the windows are usually too high. Or they are too small. Many are not too sturdy. They squeak, and if you buy a cheap one, it’ll usually fall apart. Build your own and it’ll likely last many seasons.

Something that I’ve noticed lately are the prices on deer and duck hunting gear. Duck decoys are half priceat places like Academy. Ditto that for turkey and deer decoys.There is no better time than now to buy a duck call and begin practicing. You can buy a CD and duck call and master the art of fooling ducks while driving down the road. You can do the same thing with turkey calls.

If you pay attention, you’ll see some pretty good sales on deer rifles and shotguns. If you buy a new gun, now is the time to head to the range. Remember the rule that practice makes perfect. There are a number of good shooting clubs in the Southeast Texas area. The One In One Hundred gun club near Lumberton is popular. It offers areas to shoot both shotguns and rifles.

Ditto that for gun shops with ranges like Leger’s Gun Range west of Beaumont. This is where you can buy a gun, get some ammo, head out back and start shooting. If there is one thing that most deer hunters don’t do enough of is shooting. All guns and ammo are not created equal. If you’re thinking about getting a new deer hunting rifle, now is a good time to put a favorite combination of gun, scope and bullets together. One thing is certain about deer hunting – accuracy is a must. And that can only be obtained with lots of practice.

One other thing. If you’ve got kids that will be hunting for the first time next season, now is when you need to get some practice on the range. School is out and a little late evening gunplay at the range can really keep the interest of kids on the right track.

Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.