Reality Check: Summer is waning with every sunset, school will be starting soon, and before you know it, the waterfowl season will be upon us in less than a month. Are you ready?

Now is the time to get a handle on the condition of your equipment like decoys and other important items which will be needed both on the water and in the field.

Decoys have to be the most abused pieces of equipment any waterfowler uses. If you have floaters, make sure they still float. If visible leaks caused by errant pellets are noticed, some good super glue will fill the holes. Make sure to check the decoy cord, especially the knots. Lead anchors should also be replaced if they are looking weak or are missing. Spinning wing decoys should be inspected for corroded wires and loose parts. Make sure to test the battery to see if it will still take a good charge. I like to charge up the battery and then let the wing run to see how long the battery actually lasts. If there is any question on your battery, just replace it.

Layout blinds are another piece of equipment that gets used and abused. Make sure any clips needed are still in place and function properly. I like to carry a few extra with me just in case one gets lost or goes missing when assembling these pieces of equipment early mornings in the dark.

Your firearm is without question the most important tool a successful waterfowler has. Make sure you start the season off with a well-tuned shotgun. Proper cleaning and maintenance of your firearm can be accomplished simply by breaking down the gun and giving it a thorough cleaning. If you have any uncertainty or are uncomfortable with preforming more than a simple cleaning, make sure a good qualified gunsmith does the job. My only suggestion is to get your gun into the shop well before you want to use it. The closer it gets to the season, the good gunsmiths get extremely busy, and it’s quite possible your gun will not be ready for your waterfowl outing.

This year’s early goose season opens up on Sunday, Sept. 1, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 15. This is a great time of year to get out and enjoy some early season hunting and the warmer weather combined. Think green at this time of the year. Freshly cut hay or alfalfa fields are a great choice early in the year. Do some local scouting looking for feeding activity. If you have a water source close by that is holding some family groups of geese, you should be rewarded with some early season goose action.

New this year is the youth waterfowl weekend. Instead of being a Saturday only event, the DNR has expanded this youth hunting experience to a two-day event. Youth Waterfowl weekend is on Sept. 7 and 8. Besides being two days, there are also some new rules and regulations for this weekend the DNR is allowing to further the energy to get more young people involved in the outdoors and the shooting sports. The biggest changes are that spinning wing decoys will be allowed for these two days. Also new this year is the age limit has increased to allow youth 17 and under to participate. These two new rules and the expanded weekend event should generate a lot of interest to get more youth out in the fields and on the water.

With the countdown started to the early season goose opener, now is the perfect time to get your gear in order between fishing trips. Hunting catalogs with all the greatest new gear available have been arriving in the mail, and all the retailers have started to put their focus to the fall hunting sports. Take the time needed to stock up on new gear and make sure your older equipment is ready to go. These small efforts will pay huge dividends when you hit the fields and waters this fall.

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