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Stop Obsessing Over Gear and Improve Your Skills This Off Season

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New gear will only take you so far. You must put the practice time in this offseason.

New gear will only take you so far. You must put the practice time in this offseason. (Tyler Freel/)

It’s easy for us as hunters to get wrapped up in gear, especially in the doldrums of the winter offseason when all manner of new gear, guns, cartridges, and equipment are flashing across our screens. There’s certainly nothing wrong with developing your “kit” as a way to look forward to the seasons ahead. Bowhunters will obsess over the slightest change in point weight, arrow selection, and the tune of their bow. Backpack hunters will spend hours filling out spreadsheets to optimize the weight of their packs. Rifle hunters will research the hottest-shooting new rifle to try to extend their effective range.

I don’t want to knock this kind of preparation. It plays an important part in both the anticipation and the effectiveness in our upcoming hunts. But just remember, it’s usually your skills and knowledge, not your gear, that make for a successful hunt.

Improvements in skills and knowledge take time and effort to develop. They cannot be bought. So rather than getting completely consumed by gear this offseason, we should balance it with improvement of our skillset and knowledge as well. Every hunter is different, so this will look different for each person. Pick one or two things to improve on this off-season and I can almost guarantee you’ll see tangible results in the field next fall.

For me personally, this means shooting my recurve bow all winter, mostly at short range in my garage. I focus on developing and maintaining good form and a mental shot process. Many of the nuances of shooting a bow are perishable, and rather than struggle with frustration by only shooting right before a hunting season, it helps me to be in a constant state of development.

Even in the midst of an unprecedented ammo shortage, rifle and pistol shooters can maintain and fine-tune certain aspects of their skillset through repetition. Dry firing from practical positions will keep your trigger control crisp and consistent. A 3-gun or action-pistol shooter can make mini targets and poppers out of cardboard. Tape them to the wall, and practice drawing, reloading (dummy rounds), cycling, and dry firing to gain valuable repetition without actually sending rounds downrange.

Maybe for you, it doesn’t just mean practicing a skill, but spending time dedicated to research and scouting for next season. This could mean knocking on doors to get permission on new ground, or doing some manual labor to gain favor with a landowner. It could be a dedicated plan to get in shape for a mountain hunt, or winter and spring camping trips to fine-tune your backpacking gear and develop your system.

I’d wager that every single hunter could come up with some meaningful way to improve their skillsets to have a positive impact on the next hunting season. It may take time and dedication, it might even get boring, and it probably won’t give you instant gratification, but real skills and knowledge take hard work, dedication, and experience. That’s something you can’t buy.

One of the very best times to fish for crappie is throughout the spawning season, which usually the start of spring. However, spring can bring rains, which can interrupt the common pattern of crappie. This may also affect the way you fish, however not to panic, as fishing after heavy rain is still possible!

Continue reading as I go over how heavy rainfall impacts crappie behavior and how you can still go crappie fishing after heavy rain.

Crappie Fishing Soon After Heavy Rain

Did you just experience heavy rainfall and planned to go crappie fishing that day? Don't worry, there's still a possibility you'll get a catch, depending on how the fish were affected.

Unfortunately, chances are slim when catching crappie at this time. Why? Here are the changes that happen after the heavy rains:

The water temperature will drop significantly, remaining low until you see some sunshine Rain strips up stronger currents, which have the water turn murky, making crappie less visible Covers like fallen trees and brush piles may be destroyed from heavier rains and strong currents With that said, there is some good news to crappie fishing after rainfall. When thunderstorms occur, rains would wash small insects to the water, which can attract crappie back to shallow waters. That's why anglers also like to search for post-storm crappies, attracting schools of them!

This mostly sounds like bad news, doesn't it? It doesn't have to completely be! There are still ways to get around the issues mentioned above. Since crappie is sensitive to changes in the water, you'll simply need to adjust your fishing methods.

Here are ways you can fish for crappie after heavy rainfall

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