The 2018 to 2019 bowhunting season is over in most states. Now it’s time to decide what to do with your gear.
We spoke with Jack Borcherding, marketing manager at Bear Archery; and Ben Summers, vice president of T.R.U. Ball Archery Releases and AXCEL Archery Sights and Scopes, to learn how to properly store bows, clothes, equipment and accessories.
Before buying plastic totes and clearing out closet space, pause to consider your alternatives. Summers and Borcherding said it’s better to use your gear year-round than to store it.
“I try to use my gear during the offseason by participating in other activities,” Summers said. “You stay familiar with your gear, and can better maintain or address issues and problems as they arise.”
Borcherding agreed. “The products we build and make are made to be used,” he said. “If you do that, you’ll make yourself a better archer, hunter and outdoorsman. If you can go from deer hunting to hog hunting, to turkey hunting, to small-game hunting and so on, you don’t have to winterize your bow.” For some late-season alternatives, check out our article “Prolong your season with these five activities.”
Also consider participating in recreational or competitive shoots to hone your skills. Many bowhunters love 3D tournaments, and pro shops with large indoor ranges often everything from 5-spot to 3D events.
As for your hunting clothes, don’t fold and stack everything into scent-proof bags. Wear it for comfort and warmth, and even as a conversation starter to recruit archers and bowhunters. Read our article “Can Camouflage Create New Archers?” to learn more.
Not everyone has the time or energy to bowhunt year-round. If that’s you, it’s best to store your gear during winter, and maybe even spring and summer.
But before you start, take an inventory of your gear, and see what needs to be fixed, replaced or updated. Do your boots leak? Does your treestand need new straps? These inspections help hunters capitalize on year-end sales or clearance items, Borcherding said.
Next, dedicate a place for storing all your gear in one place, which makes locating everything easier when autumn nears again. Look for a temperature-controlled environment that’s dry and bug-free. Summers suggests avoiding garages and basements because of moisture, which causes rust, mildew and other problems. Plus, musky odors can be tough to remove from boots and clothing.
Consider these suggestions for storing specific items:
Bow: “Bows are the most important asset you have as a bowhunter,” Borcherding said. “You must store it properly to extend its lifespan.”
Borcherding stores his compound bow inside his home on a bow hanger with its sight, stabilizer and arrow rest still attached. “If you must store the bow in a garage or shed, use a hard case,” Borcherding said. “It provides a barrier to the elements.”
Traditional bows should be unstrung whenever they aren’t used for two to three weeks. You should also wax all bowstrings and compound-bow cables so they don’t dry and break.
Clothes: Summers washes his clothing in scent-free detergent before storing everything in air-tight bags or containers to protect them from bugs, pets, moisture and odors.
If you have extra hunting clothes you no longer plan to wear, consider donating them to someone who might want to try bowhunting.
Blinds and Treestands: Blinds are too large for many storage options, so hunters typically store them in their garage or shed. Summers said that’s fine, but suggests setting up the blind to air it out before the season.
Treestands present a different challenge. Some bowhunters remove them from the woods and others leave them where they hang. Before deciding, consider the pros and cons.
Removing stands can be a lot of work, but it prolongs their effective life. Leaving them in the tree subjects them to rust, and abuse from animals that chew on seats, ropes, cushions and other items. By removing the stand, you allow the tree to continue growing during spring and summer without constricting ropes, straps or chains.
If you leave your treestands in the woods, don’t climb back into them later before inspecting them for damage, and to ensure bolts and ladder sections aren’t loose.
In short, if you remove your stands, it’s more work now. If you leave your stands, it’s more risky, and you don’t necessarily avoid work. Eventually you must make repairs and replace parts.
Accessories: Don’t forget your miscellaneous hunting items. Remove batteries from your flashlights, headlamps, rangefinders or other electronics to prevent corrosion. Store your arrows they won’t get bent or stepped on. Broadheads should be stored in cases so pets and children can’t cut themselves.
“Your equipment needs to be ready when you are,” Summers said. “Taking care of it properly helps protect your investment.”