Put your new toys to good use

I hope you’re listening to this while you’re driving home from a great day in the duck and goose blind. Or maybe chasing long-tailed goony birds. What better way to spend the days after Christmas than by using the new toys you got as gifts?

I’m sure there were plenty of goose calls, pheasant vests and shotgun shells under the trees on Christmas Day. And I’m sure if you were the happy recipient of any of these items, you were dying to get outside and use them as soon as possible.

Some lucky buggers even got shotguns. Maybe a break-action single-shot for a youngster. Now’s the time to get out and use them. There are a few more days left in the pheasant season, and you’ve still got plenty of time to get out for waterfowl.

You can also go after rabbits with those new shotguns. If you or a junior hunter you know got a .22 for Christmas, it’s a good time to break that in, too. The rabbit season runs until March, so you can use those new rifles for quite a while.

If you got a big game gun, you might not be able to take it hunting, but you can still sight it in. Take it to the sporting goods store or the gunsmith and get it bore sighted, then go to the range. After you get it sighted in, get some practice with it. Send a few boxes of bullets down the barrel. Make sure when the season rolls around, you can hit where you’re aiming.

The same goes for the shotguns. Just because the season’s still open for birds doesn’t mean you have to go hunting. In fact, it might be a good idea to go to the trap range and break a few clays before you try your new gun out on live targets. If you get a feel for it, you’ll have better luck when you take it on its first hunt.

Maybe you didn’t get a new shotgun, rifle or even a new duck call for Christmas. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get out in the field on these last few days of the year. Take the old, trusty 12-gauge out for geese. Pull on your tattered hunting vest and go after pheasants. Or get the beat-up, well-used .22 out of the gun safe and bring a few rabbits home.

Use your vacation time before you lose it. There are only a few days left in the year, and those licenses in your hip pocket will expire at midnight on the 31st. Put a few more birds in the freezer before you have to buy a new set of licenses.