Organizing hunting, fishing gear goes a long way toward success

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Hunting success relies on organization
Organizing outdoor gear can lead to success in the field

The Rubbermaid container haunting the bottom of the closet is a strutting gobbler just out of shotgun range. Its transparent sides loom the way the broad shoulders of a big whitetail buck do as he stares from dense cover. The plastic tomb continues to lay in wait with the audacity of a winter bass sluggishly biding its time for a mercury rise.

Even now, its silent taunts are deafening.

The resting place for this tawdry collection of shotgun shells may have changed addresses a time or two but it remains a vibrant hodgepodge of brands and shot sizes, some of which aren’t entirely decipherable. Sure it works fine to scour the innards for the black-hulled geese loads or the red-hulled duck loads for 10 minutes the night before a hunt, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to sort the introverted mass into 25-shell bunches as they used to be housed in crisp boxes?

No doubt.

Then again, this is just one intimidating horde of clutter that needs to be resolved.

Let’s face it – it’s tough to get rid of stuff or reorganize it – especially outdoor gear we’ve amassed. Harder still is taking stock of what we’ve got and then reorganizing and reprioritizing it into concise bundles that will fit among all the other stuff we’ve albatrossed in the space we call home. Whether you’re a hunter, angler, camper, hiker, biker, skier – or all of the above – it’s not easy to make hard and fast decisions about goodies that may serve some fruitful purpose down the trail.

Then again, in these tough economic times, it’s good to know exactly what you need to add to your outdoor arsenal and what you don’t if you’ve got something in supply that will do the job.

I remain in awe of hunting and fishing guides. These guys and gals know what they need to take and what they don’t, and if they don’t need it, it doesn’t even make it into the vehicle for the trip to the woods or waters.

San Juan River fishing guide Chris Anderson is a classic example of keeping it simple. Other than the fly rods, Anderson simply carried a knapsack of gear during a December outing on the famed trout fishery in northwestern New Mexico a few years back. He had a half-dozen flies he’d tied the night before based on how the fish were acting, a minute surplus of tried and true other patterns and little else. A backpack with camera gear and other paraphernalia would have dwarfed his trappings on that icy day, but our fishing party still landed 15 trout that bested anything else we’d caught on a fly in fresh water.

Panhandle goose hunting guide Terry Cooke also exemplifies how to pack for an outing. Cooke tows a small trailer wherever he’s hunting filled to the brim with everything he needs to put out a stimulating spread for honkers and is a field general when it’s time to unpack. The ATV he uses to haul gear fits snugly among the various windsock decoys, body shells and decoy heads in varying bags, and there’s a stake or tie-down for each one nestled in handmade PVC pipe canisters. The decoy spread is laid out vigilantly before dawn – something that takes serious skill to be consistently successful – and after hiding out among crop stubble for a few hours on a good hunt, it’s picked up in the same order, each imitation finding its proper home in a canvas or mesh bag in timely rhythm.

Though guides get paid to make things run smoothly, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add a late resolution to try and improve your organizational skills for your outdoor frills that seemingly pile up no matter how hard you try to deny their admission to the boat or vehicle before a trip. Clutter has a finicky way of clogging up our lives, but when it comes to our outdoor pursuits, you’d be surprised how easily you can make things less bulky on a trip.

Then again, there’s fishing on the coast for redfish and specks, bass and crappie are spawning and turkey season is right around the corner.

Perhaps we shouldn’t rush this organizing thing.

There’s always next year, too.

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