Prep School

Get ready for hunting season.

Many folks believe that procrastination is the key to flexibility, and although that may be true for issues pertaining to duties at the office, chores around the house, and any number of items on a “honey-do” list, this philosophy usually results in disaster when applied to your summer hunting-season preparations. The long days of summer tend to mislead many a seasoned outdoors person into thinking there’s no rush to get things together.

“I reckon I got plenty a time to apply for my special permits,” can be overheard any spring Saturday morning at the Western Café, and you think, “yeah, I got lotsa time.” The little devil on your shoulder has you convinced that your rifle shot fine last year so there really ain’t no need to sight er’ in again. The same goes for your bow, which you hung on a hook in the garage last fall, after it fell off the tailgate. It could also be possible that your camo is a bit snug in the waist and the rear, but that’s good because now you, your horse, and your bird dog are all proportionally round. Your hunting knife sits somewhere in an old ammo can, or even a drawer in the kitchen, the dried blood from last year’s buck sticking to the blade, which is as sharp as the edge of town. Ponder as well that first aid kit, the one that sat in the puddle in the bottom of the boat last year, the one with the band-aid box still made of metal. Or how about the mixed box of random shotgun shells in your waterfowl bag—a couple of lead shot shells may somehow have found their way in there, or not.

Most folks will chuckle as they read this, recalling a buddy whose poor planning has resulted in a misadventure or two. However, poor planning and preparation can also result in lost opportunity. The deadline for Montana moose, sheep, and goat permits was May 1, and by the time you read this the deadline for special elk, deer, and antelope (June 1) will be but a memory as well. Bear in mind that many season openers are in September; therefore it is a good rule of thumb to have all of your hunting equipment tuned, sighted, and in tip-top condition before the first week of September.

The most valuable piece of equipment should be at the top of the preparation list, referring of course to the body. If you are already a regular gym or health-club user, step up the intensity of your workout especially in the cardio area. This will greatly reduce your recovery time when climbing hills and will put you well ahead of other hunters who are in not-so-good shape. If your physical condition leaves a bit to be desired, start with a daily walk and go from there. This will benefit the dog as well—turn each walk into a mini refresher course.

Rifles and shotguns should be thoroughly cleaned, lubricated, and sighted so that there is no doubt as to how and where the firearm is shooting. Visit the range at least twice before the season begins so that there are no surprises in the field. Tune your bow and thoroughly inspect your arrows and broadheads. Archery hunters should try to shoot daily if possible. Knives and broadheads should be sharpened or replaced. First-aid kits should be inspected and updated as needed. All this is of course just a short list of preparations for the upcoming season. Situations and equipment varies. For more information and help preparing your equipment or to purchase some replacement gear, visit Schnee's in downtown Bozeman, Bob Ward’s or Sportsman's Warehouse on N. 19th, or any other local outdoor shop.

To the Point
by Tom Davis and Dale Spartas

Good hunting buddies can be hard to come by. Maybe that’s why so many hunters consider their dogs to be among the best of such buddies. After all, dogs are the only hunting companions who will never chide you over a missed shot, and they always seem to enjoy your company, even if the benefit is just a belly rub. It is in this endearing spirit between sporting canine and sporting man that To the Point is presented.

Masterfully captured on film by local photographer Dale Spartas, To the Point brings to life the history, color, and personality of the traditional pointing breeds. Tom Davis brings to the book a wealth of knowledge and affection for the subject, crafting the text in such a way that the intimidating subject of high-bred sporting dogs comes at the reader easily and draws one into the fascinating world of pointing breeds.

To the Point brings pointing-dog culture to life by highlighting ten different breeds, their histories, and most importantly their passion for the hunt. From horseback field trials on Southern plantations to rooster chases on the arid Montana plains, Davis shows how pointing breeds are versatile, tough, and fun-loving. For more information visit or

-Kurt Dehmer