Equipment maintenance becomes a long chore
June 21, 2009


I am not a summer-loving person. Outside of an occasional fishing day or a hike and scouting mission, the summer is for me just a time to endure and to get my stuff ready for fall and winter hunting trips.

It's a chore to get my turkey-hunting vest sorted out after the spring season. I start out organized, but by last day, my vest is stuffed with wrappers, sandwich bags and at least a pound of sticks, leaves, dirt and rocks I've picked up along the way because they were pretty and forget to take out when I got home.

More important, I have a vest full of turkey calls that need attention before the fall season starts. Mouth calls with reeds stuck together, box calls with the paddles glazed and smooth from overuse that need to be sanded and chalked. There are the shotguns to be oiled and cleaned, and the deer rifle to be sighted in and shells loaded. Hip boots to patch, tackle box to be unloaded and cleaned out with a clump of lures all tangled together and an inventory taken of all the stuff I need to replace.

One thing I use the summer downtime for is to find a lot of really good items at yard sales. I buy hunting socks, turkey calls, lures and the battery-operated socks that I favor for deer season. I bought a new L.L. Bean coat at a yard sale for $3 a few years ago. And boots. I seldom see a pair of boots at a sale that I can pass up. Truly, I must have 40 pairs of boots in my closet, having paid about 50 cents to a dollar for each pair at a rummage sale. No matter what the weather conditions, I have a pair of boots that are perfect. However, they have to be conditioned and some waterproofed. I've learned to use summer evenings to do these onerous chores because long ago I got fed up with having the season open and my gear being in a mess.

I remember the pair of boots I got the night before my very first trout season opening. I won't mention how long ago it was except to say there were no hip boots anywhere, ever made to fit a woman. The most I could hope for was to find some in a boy's size I could wear. But since I'd never been fishing before and agreed to go next day only because my husband's wheedling on the subject finally broke me down.

So we set out the evening before trout season to find a pair of boots for me. We went from store to store but, of course, no luck. Finally, in one store we found a pair of men's waders only two sizes too big. Figuring that I would probably not wear them more than once and could wear several pairs of socks to take up the slack, and was exhausted from the search, I got them.

Next morning, decked out in the new boots, I realized I looked like a clown. The top of the waders came almost to my chin so I cinched a belt around my waist to help keep them up. The result was the extra rubber bunched up all around my body, looking like a rubber ruffle. It did give me a very convenient place to tuck my bait box.

I don't know how I managed to make my way along the trout stream or if I even caught any trout. Vividly, I do remember that as I was clomping along the dirt road back to the vehicle, two anglers were coming toward me on the road. I heard one say to the other, "Look at them boots!"

I had the same experience when I decided I'd like to give hunting a try. I had to wear castoff clothes and use a borrowed gun. Nothing fit, absolutely nothing. Once I realized that I loved this outdoor life, I began to assemble, as best I could, clothes that fit. That's why I haunt yard sales. I now get the benefit of boots and jackets and socks and seat cushions and sweatshirts that were purchased for young folks but the next year don't fit.

At a yard sale this spring, I bought a box call, camouflage cushion, and a bottle of Tink's 69 buck lure. I also update my outdoor survival kit each year, and I'll tell you about that next week.


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