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The off-season is the time to dial in your gear and make sure everything is ready for the hunting season. Don’t procrastinate and cram your to-do list into the final weeks before the hunt. Start now, and use this time to properly prepare.

See our previous article on making changes to your bow or rifle setup. Making sure your weapon is dialed should be your top priority during the off-season. Once you’re on track with your weapon, it’s time to make sure boots are fitting property, as well as your backpack and any other critical equipment.

Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for upcoming hunts:

1. Hunting Boots

The last thing you want is to discover an issue with your hunting boots while you’re on the hunt. Don’t put this off. Make sure your footwear – including socks – is comfortable and ready for the trip.

If you need new boots this year, now is the time to make that purchase. Don’t put it off. Settle on a new pair of boots now, so that you have plenty of time to break them in before the season. If there are problems, you want to discover that sooner rather than later.

Recommended Hunting Boots

Likewise, you may want to try a few different socks of varying thickness to see which one works best with your boot. Finding the right boot/sock combo will keep your feet in the best possible condition on a long, tough hunt. Make sure you’re not using any cotton in your socks. We recommend a merino wool or merino-synthetic blend for the best performance. Even the best boots in the world won’t function properly if you’re wearing cotton or another sub-par sock underneath.

Once you’ve settled on a boot and a sock, wear them throughout the summer. Take them for hikes near your home or do stadium stairs. Make sure the boots are broken in, and that you don’t have any hot spots.

2. Backpack

In addition to your boots, you’ll want to settle on a backpack that you plan to use for your hunt. Making this decision now is important so that you can achieve the proper fit. A good backpack should be able to fit all the items you need to carry on the hunt – rain gear, extra layers, water, snacks, and field dressing kit. If you’re not sure what you’ll need to carry, ask your outfitter or guide. Avoid carrying items that are unnecessary – on a tough mountain hunt, any extra weight is going to hurt after a couple of days.

Load your backpack just like you would for the hunt. While you’re breaking in your boots, wear your backpack while you hike or climb stadium stairs. Make sure the pack fits comfortably, riding with appropriate weight on your hips and shoulders. If it hurts now, it’s going to hurt worse on a hunt in rugged terrain. Get the fit right now and your hunt will be much more enjoyable.

Another reason to settle on your backpack now, is to give yourself plenty of time to practice shooting before the season. This is particularly important for archery hunters. Make sure you can comfortably draw your bow while wearing the backpack. Depending on the situation, you may not have time to drop your pack before a shot opportunity. When bow hunting for elk, things can happen quickly. Being able to shoot with your pack on is important.

3. Other Hunting Equipment

Other things to consider will include your optics and a well-fitting binocular harness. Decide which binos and bino harness you plan to wear on the hunt – and then, spend time practicing at the archery or rifle range. Every time you shoot, wear your bino harness. When it comes to making a shot in the field, you’ll be wearing it. So you might as well start practicing with it now.

As draw results become available and your fall schedule falls into place, go ahead and make checklists for your clothing needs and any other hunting equipment. The more you can make those decisions now, the less you’ll have to think about the weeks leading up to your hunt. The stress of packing will be much relived, knowing what you’re going to bring and having tested everything. This way, you can spend those final weeks practicing your shooting and keeping up physical conditioning.

For recommendations on gear, we have a series of videos that you might find helpful:

Hunt with LOH Outfitters

If you’d like to know more about the guided hunts that we offer in New Mexico, please take some time to review the information on the rest of our website. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to send us a message or call Jerry directly at (512) 865-8990. We’d be thrilled to help you plan your dream New Mexico hunt!

Elk Hunting