Bloch: Check your boots!

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Perhaps you have noticed a change in the weather lately? It’s not exactly autumn yet, but it sure isn’t mid-July, either.

A cooling trend toward the end of August can mean only one thing to a lot of people — hunting season must be fast approaching, and it’s high time to get ready. Following is a smattering of things you might do to make sure that opening day is memorable for all the right reasons.

First, be sure your boots are in order. I admit that checking your boots isn’t the most glamorous thing you can do. In fact, most outdoor scribes insist that your primary mission at this heady time of year is to sight in your rifle, or exercise your bird dog, or maybe go out to the local gun club for a round of trap or skeet. Those are great things to do, I’ll agree, and you should do them all.

But after more than a few hunting seasons, I would ask you to consider doing my suggestion first. From experience, I can tell you that doing all the other stuff right won’t mean a thing if your feet hurt. Please do yourself a favor and get the best boots you can afford, and if they’re new, wear them every day for a week or two before the season actually starts.

If last year’s models are still in good order, check them anyway. Make sure the soles have some tread, and that there are no cracks or loose seams through which rain or snow might come a’callin’. Put new laces in if the present ones show any signs of failing.

One other thing: If you have kids going with you, please check their footwear especially well. If given the chance, most youngsters will head out the door wearing their favorite Nikes or sport shoes, but most of these are not good choices for rough terrain or inclement weather. Make sure they have good boots that are designed for rough service.

Waterproofing is very handy, and if your young nimrod tends to get cold feet, get an insulated pair. If they are planning to wear last year’s issue, please be sure they still fit. Obviously, the night before your hunting trip begins is probably not the best time to have your youngster try them on. Just in case, take along some extra socks, band aids and Neosporin for the inevitable blisters on tender toes and heels.

And that other stuff too....

Once you are sure of being sure-footed, then it’s time to check the other gear. Rifles, scopes, shotguns, ammo, backpacks, coolers, GPS, walkie-talkies, camo field wear, and all such stuff of fall should be gathered up, sorted out, checked and rechecked, and put in a separate place so you know where it is.

Don’t forget your trigger lock keys, and batteries for your flashlight, range finder, and other like equipment. It seems that more and more hunting gear requires batteries of some sort. If your plans will take you afield for several days, you might take along a few spare batteries in assorted sizes. Just because you remembered to check yours doesn’t mean your hunting companions will be as wise. You can be a real camp’s hero if your kit contains extra batteries and first aid supplies.

Most shooting ranges this time of year have warm-up events for hunters of all classifications. Virtually every weekend of the year, Walla Walla Gun Club is open to the public for trap and skeet practice Sundays at 9 a.m. For a little extra excitement, we have a special Haun’s Meats Sausage Shoot at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8, which is a great way to blast the cobwebs out of the old 12 or 20 gauge. And since there are games for all ages and abilities, you can bring the whole family and go home with plenty of sausage to begin the fall freezer stockpile.

Likewise, East End Rod and Gun Club in Milton-Freewater and Waitsburg Gun Club always have public sight-in days for rifle hunters. East End’s dates are Sept. 20-21, and again on Sept 27-29. Check out www.eergunclub.com and www.waitsburggunclub.com for exact dates and times. Usually, these two clubs are “members only,” but on these special days everyone is welcome.

A bit about SCTP

You may recall that in last month’s column, I told you about a new Scholastic Clay Target Program Youth Trap and Skeet Team forming at Walla Walla Gun Club. Since that first mention, we have had a lot of interest, and questions have come up that I might take a few moments here to answer. Recall that the program we have planned is for boys and girls ages 13-18. There will be two divisions, a middle school group (grades 6-8) and a high school group (grades 9-12).

Please know that kids of all shooting abilities are welcome. In fact, they do not need any prior knowledge of firearms or shooting to participate.

Our approach begins with the basics of safe and effective trap shooting, and leads them through a systematic program of continuous improvement. The goal is to get them up to shooting speed over the course of the school year so that they will be ready to participate in various regional and statewide matches once school is out.

Guns will be provided to some degree for those without, as will most ammo, clay targets, and other equipment. Weekly practices will be held, with Sunday afternoon the most likely time.

We should begin by later September, and run through mid-December. We’ll pick up again after the Holidays, and run mid-January to the end of school. The tournament season starts close thereafter, and depending on how the teams and individuals do, can go through July and early August.

As shooters progress in the program, they are eligible for college scholarships and prizes of many kinds. It’s a great opportunity for youth and families, and we are glad to finally get the SCTP program started here in Walla Walla.

We have a packet of information we can send or email to anyone interested in learning more about this great youth program. We will have fliers out at all the schools and youth organizations the first week of September, and sign-up sheets and more info up on WWGC’s website (http://www.wallawallagunclub.com) by then as well. In addition, if you would like to be put on our SCTP mailing list to receive updates and advisory notifications of our startup meetings, please email to info@wallawallagunclub.com.

Good luck, and good shooting!

Bob Bloch is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Walla Walla Gun Club and a member of the East End Rod and Gun Club in Milton-Freewater. He can be reached at info@wallawallagunclub.com.

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