The Sportsman’s Dark Winter: Making the Most of the “Off Season”

Ok tough guy, I know. There is no “off season”. But let’s face it. Mid-January through the first warm days of early spring is dreadfully slow for a lot of sportsmen. The fury of fall has ended, so how do you break through the arduous, dark, depressing days of not being able to strategize for your hunt this weekend? Follow these tips and strap in. It’s the sportsman’s “Dark Winter”.

Organize Your Gear

By the time the fall hunting season ends, my gear is typically a scattered mess from the garage to the basement. This is a great time to do gear inspections and organize. It’s usually dark when I get home from work, so outside work is usually out unless it’s an emergency. As I organize I’m even thinking ahead to spring turkeys and what I will need to have ready when the scouting time arrives. Shutting myself in my “man cave” and working through all my gear is a great way to decompress, reflect, and look ahead.

Clean Your Firearms

Did I use all my gins this year? No. Do they still need cleaning? Yes. There is a deeply accomplished feeling attached to looking in your gun safe or cabinet and setting a line of freshly polished firearms. I’d say it’s probably one of the best feelings a hunter could have as they battle the winter “blahs”.

Test new wild game recipes

Don’t miss the chance to experience the beauty of a new wild game recipe to get you through the winter.

Once the weather gets really nasty, I like to stay in with the fireplace going and test out new recipes. It’s a great way to make room in your freezer for those spring fish and turkeys. Try some new things that you think will be really good. I like to use this as time to make jerky and dehydrate fruit for upcoming trips as well. It’s a much cheaper alternative to gas station food on those quick fishing trips in the spring.

Tune Your Bow

Are you bow hunter? I know what your bow has been through. It’s screaming out for your attention as it’s been rained on, snowed on, and laid in the dirt. Your string is starting to fray, and you don’t really know when the last time you had your center shot lined up or your rest tuned. It was too long ago. Give your bow what it really wants; a day at a reputable pro-shop that will get you ready to go stick a spring bear or turkey. Give it the post fall recovery treatment it needs.



Get Your “Workout” On

Don’t worry, I’m not going to call you “Bro” or tell you that you need to run an ultra-marathon. (Even though that would be pretty awesome if you did.) Right now is a great time to get “back on the wagon”. My diet during the hunting season is most likely the worst that it is all year. If I’m going to be ready to fish the trout streams and chase gobblers in the spring, it’s going to take some work. There’s no better time than the present.

Go shed hunting

My take on shed hunting: Even if you don’t find any sheds, you’ll get a great hike in.

I’m not going to pretend that I know exactly the right time to head out and find the biggest sheds. What I can say is that I can’t stand being indoors all winter. Shed hunting is a great opportunity to do some winter scouting and get some fresh air. It’s also a great way to get the family out and get some exercise.

Attack the “Honey-do” List With a Vengeance

Maybe this is why God allows us to have a slow time between seasons. As I look around my house, I can find about 100 things that need my immediate attention. Working diligently on these things really helps pass the time. Knocking out the “Honey do’s” might even score you an extra morning or two in the turkey woods.

Get Ready for Fishing

Some guys like to dig around in vehicles and get them running better. I like to get all my fishing gear out and get it running in top condition. Whether you are prepping for crappie, trout, walleye, early bass, or something us midwesterners have never heard of, now is the time to get yourself together.

Predator Hunt

Save a fawn, shoot a coyote or two, or three.

Check your states game laws. You may just have an opportunity during this time to not only satisfy the itchy trigger finger, but also save a fawn or two. Once the ground freezes and the critters get harder for predators to find, you might just be surprised by how effective you can be with a rabbit squealer and the .223.

Catch up on Bible Reading

Hunting season can also take a toll on your commitment to scripture intake. Take those hours that you would normally be working outside daylight during the spring to catch up on the scripture reading you have missed. Want a guide? Click here.

Plan Your Outdoor Year

Maybe you’re thinking, “Man, I’d really like to accomplish more in the outdoors this year.” Make it happen! Get out your calendar and start planning. Make this year your biggest year ever.


How do you combat against the Sportsman’s Dark Winter? Comment below!

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