What Do You Do in the Offseason?

With hunting seasons closed out across the country, it’s time for all hunters to tackle the toughest time of the year. The question for many is “What now?”

What Do You Do in the Offseason?

Editor Dave Maas spends much of his summer fishing with his two sons. Here, Elliot hold's Luke's first muskie.

We asked GVO editors and staff what they do in the off season when the itch to hunt is just as strong, but the opportunity isn’t there. For many of our staff, there is no offseason — the great outdoors always has something to draw you in. Hanging a treestand or trail cameras may keep you in the woods; or maybe you jump from hunting to another outdoor hobby like fishing, biking, hiking or camping. And don’t forget the need to keep in shape for when the offseason ends, and the time comes to get back into the game. Or maybe the offseason is just a myth. Many of our editors don’t believe in it and are equally as engrossed in the outdoors or shooting sports from one season to the next. 

Dave Maas, Senior Editor for Bait & Tackle BusinessBowhunting WorldArchery Business and Whitetail Journal 

In the Midwest states I bowhunt, deer season closes on or near December 31. One task I like to accomplish soon after archery season is visiting all my treestand locations to remove padded seat cushions. If I leave cushions in place through the winter, squirrels and other rodents will chew them to pieces, and the sun will fade the camo. I also loosen the straps of hang-on stands and ladder stands. To maximize the life of a treestand, I know it’s best to remove them from the woods each winter, but I rarely do so; it’s just too much work. I carefully inspect the straps before using the stands again.

I spend the winter in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin ice fishing with my two sons and a few buddies. When the ice melts in spring, we change our attention to open-water fishing and turkey hunting. We’ll also work on spring food plot plantings for whitetails. During the summer, we fish and golf.

P.S. I’m not one of those bowhunters who shoots year-round. And that’s okay because I limit my shots to broadside or slightly quartering away only, at no more than 25 yards. In fact, 99 percent of the deer I’ve killed with a bow over the past 40 years have been taken at 17 yards or less. Last year in South Dakota, I passed a broadside 30-yard shot at a big buck (stopped, looking away) simply because there was a decent chance he’d walk closer. He didn’t, but that’s okay. The bag limit in South Dakota is one, and had I killed that buck, my deer season would have been over too soon.

Luke Laggis, Editor for Shooting Sports Retailer and Recreational Retailer

When the last of my hunting opportunities freeze up in early winter, I switch over to ice fishing. I even worked from my ice shack for a couple weeks last winter. You can read my stories about that experience here. We get a lot of cold and snow in northern Wisconsin, so I get out on the trails on my fat bike, too. And I keep an old mountain bike on a training stand in my basement. Once spring hits I start riding the gravel forest roads. That helps me start to build up my riding legs and lets me see what’s going on out in the woods after a long winter. Then I shift into mountain biking when the trails dry out. I keep that up at least a few days per week until late September or early October, when diminishing daylight makes post-work rides difficult and cooler temps bring in more hunting opportunities. From that point I’m pretty much in the woods every minute I can be until winter shuts it down.

Derrick Nawrocki, President and Publisher for Grand View Outdoors

Is there an offseason? Not really.

So, let’s say deer season is the season in question. In my off season, I spend as much time as I can at my hunting club working with the team to build shooting houses, hanging tree stands, moving tree stands, planting fields, fishing, clearing roads, squirrel hunting, fixing, repairing and moving feeders, predator hunting, turkey hunting, working on controlled burns, sighting in bows and rifles for upcoming hunts — there are always other work projects to get to.

This of course happens in between and around any other spring or summer hunting or fishing or outdoor opportunities that come up. These have included deep sea fishing in the gulf, turkey hunting in Texas or Oklahoma or South Dakota, river fishing in Northern Michigan, hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, bear hunting in Idaho, trips to the beach, Axis deer hunting in Texas — really anything that works out.

It doesn’t take much to discover that next adventure even you are in the offseason.

Alan Clemons, Editor for Bait & Tackle Business, Digital Editor for Predator XtremeShooting Sports Retailer and Tactical Retailer

I don’t have an offseason and never have, to be honest. I fish year-round no matter the season or weather (other than lightning; that's a no-go for me, ever). Autumn is small game, running dogs for raccoons, rabbits and squirrels with friends, waterfowl, deer and predators. Spring is for turkeys and hogs. Summer? Fishing until it gets dark, or sometimes all night, for bream, bass and catfish.  Sighting in scopes, testing ammo, shooting my bow and crossbow, doing work for deer season, chasing hogs and predators. Actually, hogs and predators are pretty much a year-round thing, too. I don't go hunting and fishing as much as I would like to, but there's not really an off-season.

Scott Mayer, Editor for Tactical Retailer and Predator Xtreme

There is no offseason. When I'm not actively hunting, I'm regularly shooting, casting bullets or reloading rifle, pistol and shotshells. I recently moved and have yet to set up my "boom room," so I'll be doing that this year, plus experimenting with powder-coating cast pistol bullets instead of the usual lubing and sizing.

Write in and let us know if the offseason exists for you or not and what you may do to keep busy. 

For more tips and suggestions for the offseason (or lack thereof), please enjoy these other GVO stories: Improve Your Archery Skill with Offseason 3-D ShootingTips for Offseason Trail Camera Predator ScoutingWhy Downtime Is The Time for ScoutingWhy You Should Hunt Hogs During the Offseason and Spend the Offseason Learning A Running Shot


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