Ok, it's hot as the dickens. August in Mississippi has got to be about the worst time of year for hunters except for the Wildlife Extravaganza outdoors kick-off show the first weekend. At least that event helps get us in the mood for the coming hunting seasons.

And speaking of the coming hunting seasons, August is a really good time to start the initiation phase for a number of planning and activity phases to prepare for all the things that need attention before hunting seasons actually roll around. I mean with bow hunting for deer opening Oct. 1, time will fly by.


Hunting land primer

"I'm the first to admit we let our hunting property rather languish during the late spring and summer months," said Kerry French, a deer camp owner near Coxburg. "We roll into camp about Labor Day weekend for a camp work day thinking we can get all the deer hunting prep work done in one or two days. It never happens."

I suspect this is the situation with a lot of hunting clubs across the state, so I encourage all hunting clubs and private landowners to start mapping out plans now. There is always more to do than can usually be done when it comes to a hunting camp.

Everyone's hunting land priorities may differ somewhat but they likely include area prep, food plot planting, hunting-stand maintenance, camp area restoration, repairs, construction and new projects.

August is not too soon to mow, plow or disk up overgrown food plots. If you have not sprayed for weeds or mowed since last hunting season, now is a good time to cut down the summer growth to let it die off in the summer sun. Many food-plot farmers go ahead and disk the plots once early as well. This helps get the soil ready for dedicated disking prior to planting.

If you have not tested your food plot soil pH, then do it now. If the report back from the university or soil conservation service indicates that lime is needed, do it now. It takes a minimum of six months for lime to fully leech into the soil to gain a benefit the following year. Lime now for next year. You have to start somewhere in this process.

This may sound silly, because it's August: Feed and seed dealers are not thinking about hunters now, so they haven't jacked up prices yet. If you have the storage space for a month or so, start pricing seed and fertilizer now if you plant your own plots. If not, see if your planter will lock in a price at the current rate. Inspect all your planting equipment, too.

"Beyond food plots, I guess our next concern is hunting stands," French said. "We usually find one or two blown over from spring tornado winds. Those may require some repair or replacement. We buy our stand covers now, too, in prep for tying them up in September or October. If you have an idea to move some stands around to break up hunter patterning by deer, then August is a great time for this work.

"Next we do all kinds of area maintenance work. We mow all the main roads, ditches, side trails, ATV trails and even food plots we rotate out of planting every year. We mow the camp yard, cut up some downed trees for camp firewood, check the electric lights and water access for cleaning up. We usually ride the property lines hanging fresh posted signs, too."

As I said from the get-go, the work never really ends, but getting a head start on it as early as possible always turns out to be a smart bet.

Undoubtedly other things will need attention as the season unfolds, so get the absolutely necessary work done now.

I might as well mention, too, that many deer hunters start putting out trail cameras this early in the year. It's nice to get a jump on seeing what bucks are roaming the property.


Personal gear prep

"Every hunting season I have to search around to find all my gear from last season," said Jim Harper, who hunts in Warren County. "Sometimes I find I neglected to fix something that broke or wore out, or something that needs to be totally replaced. It might be a new battery in the ATV, buy some new ammo, retighten the scope mounts on my rifle, sew up the hunting pants that did not cross the fence or any number of things.

"I like to get this stuff done now instead of the week of opening gun season. That week is enough of a rush."

August is not too early to line up all your gear to inspect it. This goes from boots, to portable stands, to bows, guns, optics and everything else. I use the opening day of deer season to put fresh batteries in all my flashlights, handheld radios and other electronics. I also stock up on extra batteries just in case.

Break out your game-cleaning tools for clean-up, inspection, sharpening or replacement. I have decided we need a professional bone saw for processing deer and removing antlers. There is nothing worse than trying to skin a deer with a dull knife.

Be sure to give your bows and guns a thorough going over. Tighten screws, wax bow strings, check sights, peeps and limbs. Rifles should be cleaned from the breech out of the barrel. Optical glass - both scopes and binoculars - should be cleaned . Check mounts, as well. If need be, take that hunting rifle to the range and check the sights. Limber up your shoulders and arms by starting to shoot a few arrows a day. Inspect those broadheads, sharpening or replacing any that are dull or damaged.

There are tons of things to do to get ready for hunting season. Time will get away from you so use this hot month of August to start the process.

You'll be glad later.