There are 10 million deer hunters out there drooling over the prospect of their season opener. Well, make that 9,999,999 because my friend Alan Clemons already bagged an 8-pointer on July 28, opening day of Florida’s 2012 bowhunting season.

The triple digit temps may have fooled you into thinking that summer is never going to end, but the fact is early season waterfowl, dove and big game seasons are just around the corner. Here in South Carolina, I can crawl into my deer stand to rifle hunt for whitetails on Aug. 15.

With these season openers right on our heels, make sure you set aside time to get ready. I’ve jotted down nine tips to help you prepare.

1. Practice with your bow, sight in your rifle or pattern your shotgun (wear your hunting clothes to keep it real).
2. Inspect your gear. Replace whatever is worn out, broken or doesn’t fit.
3. Treat your hunting clothes so they are scent-free and repel ticks.
4. Review your hunting regulations to brush up on the basics and learn about any changes.
5. Buy your hunting licenses, permits and stamps.
6. Get permission to hunt private land. If you already have the go-ahead, touch base with the landowner for last minute instructions and intel on wildlife populations and their travel patterns.
7. Scout the area you plan to hunt. Study your maps.
8. Set up and inspect tree stands and blinds. Make sure your fall-arrest system is shipshape.
9. If you’re a new hunter or plan to introduce one, don’t forget about taking a hunter safety course or bowhunter education course.

In many states, you can enjoy the convenience of taking a hunter education course online at The training offered at this site is approved by the state agencies responsible for hunter education, and it’s the same material students learn in the classroom.

If you’re a bowhunter looking for safety and skills training, check out The content for this course was developed in conjunction with the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, and it’s approved by all states that require it.

Even better news: studying at and is free. If you or your student must be certified before buying a hunting license, you pay a one-time fee that is due only if you pass the test. Online hunter safety courses are available in participating states, so visit or to take a course specific to your state.

Several states require students to pass an online course and a field day to complete all hunter or bowhunter education requirements. Field days are designed to offer hands-on lessons in how to be a safe hunter. Before you take your online course, check your state’s hunter education requirements. If you are required to attend a field day, make sure there is one available. Field days can fill quickly and completing the online course doesn’t guarantee you a spot at a field day.

In many states, you can now find and register for a hunter education field day or classroom course at You can even register for an event using your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

Getting ready for the big day just got a little easier so now you can focus on all the other details that will help you have a safe and successful hunting season.

Image © Lugo

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