About this time many of us are heading home from the fields and forests filled with the thrill of victory (got it) or the agony of defeat (didn’t get it) and are ready to forget about hunting for a while. Not so fast. You have work to do.

It concerns the maintenance of your equipment, and the reason you must do it now is because if you don’t do it now you’ll forget about it, and when next season arrives whatever repairs you haven’t made will jump up and bite you in the ass, or whatever body part they can reach.

For example, last season I forgot to take the batteries out of my Radio Shack weather radio, and when I went to pack it this year the night before leaving for camp, I discovered that the batteries had leaked and the radio was wrecked. Off to Radio Shack I ran to get another, because I like listening to the NOAA weather and finding out in advance how much I’m going to suffer the next day.

Since our lives are driven on batteries, remove them from everything that runs on them and that you’re not going to use for a while–cameras, GPS, rangefinders, the lot. Take ’em out. If they’re weak, or low, get rid of them in an environmentally unsound manner and get new ones. Having my weather radio rendered null and void cost me only $37, but if you leave batteries in your brand-new Leica rangefinding binocular and they leak, your wails and lamentations will cause all the dairy cattle in a 25-mile radius to go dry.

If any stitching on anything is worn out, broken, or frayed, re-stitch it. I use carpet thread, which is very heavy and very strong, and my sewing looks like hell, but it holds, so who cares? Worn stitching means holes, and holes mean that you will lose stuff.

Check your boots. Years ago I went to West Virginia with a pair of expensive German boots whose soles were starting to delaminate. I could have fixed them with a few drops of Barge Cement, but trusted them to hold out. They didn’t, and I ended up hunting in boots with flopping soles. (Luckily, many people in West Virginia hunt this way, so I was spared the embarrassment.) A friend of mine took on the Franz Josef Mountains in New Zealand in a pair of boots that were on their last legs, and they gave out on him altogether. He finished the hunt more or less barefoot.

Did anything get wet? Dry it out. Is anything starting to rust? Clean it up. Did you run out of anything, or is anything getting low? Replace/replenish it.

Do this stuff now, because next November will be too late, and when you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with equipment that has failed you, give yourself a nice punch in the face for me, because you were warned and you deserve it.