Here are some great tips from NOMAD OUTDOOR on how to properly store your hunting gear, so it’s ready for next season.
At the end of the hunting season, guns and other equipment need careful storage and cleaning. Proper gun maintenance protects against corrosion and other damage, but it also prevents theft and misuse.
High-quality guns and hunting apparel are significant investments, so it’s essential to protect your belongings. The right storage strategy can make a huge difference when you pull your equipment out at the beginning of the next season.
Every item should be cleaned before storage, but how you clean them and protect them from future damage also matters. Scents, moisture and temperature-related damage can sneak into storage containers that aren’t designed for full protection.
CLEANING GUNS FOR STORAGE
Guns are likely the most valuable items in your inventory, and they are also the most sensitive in terms of storage needs. Even though guns are treated to reduce the risk of rusting, they still need proper care to ensure parts don’t stick together.
Refer to your owner’s manual for detailed step-by-step instructions on how to clean your gun with standard supplies like bore brushes and rods. Use a high-quality ammonia-free solvent and clean every part of the gun to remove soiling and dirt. Don’t use your hands to touch gun parts that you’ve already cleaned because oil from your skin can also cause rusting.
Treat wood stocks with wax to help protect them from moisture and apply a very thin layer of lubricant to the bore and other metal parts of the gun. Keep the gun decocked to reduce tension in the springs and prolong longevity.
SAFE GUN STORAGE
Lockable carrying cases are great for moving guns during hunting season but they are not designed for safe, long-term household use. These cases are easy for thieves to carry off in a hurry. Use heavy, fireproof gun safes during the off-season or any period when guns are not in use.
Even strong and heavy safes may be vulnerable to human error that prevents them from locking properly. Keep them in a location that can be closely monitored. The master bedroom is likely the safest place in the house for storage, as this location is hard for children to access at night.
A cool, dry basement may also be an acceptable storage location for large gun collections if there are no children in the house.
Inside the safe, gun storage socks and bags can add another layer of protection, especially if they are silicone-treated to keep out moisture. Sheep-skin cases can hold moisture, so they should be avoided.
KNIVES AND AXES MAINTENANCE
Any cutting tools you carry while hunting should be cleaned and stored with the same attention to detail as with guns. Clean knives, bone saws and axes thoroughly with dish soap and warm water but take care not to leave water trapped in the handle or other parts. Once the tool is completely dry, lightly lubricate the metal parts and wax wooden parts the same way as you would for guns.
Although these tools may not be as dangerous as guns, they should still be locked up safely. Store them in a locking safe that cannot be easily moved. You can store them in the same safe as your guns if space allows.
KEEPING CLOTHES SCENT-FREE
Hunting clothes require extra care before long storage periods. Failure to eliminate all odors before storage could cause long-term damage to your clothes and affect future hunting trips.
Use unscented detergent and avoid placing any cover scents in your storage area. If your family frequently uses scented dryer sheets, consider drying your clothes outside instead of using the dryer. The smell from dryer sheets can linger, even in stainless steel dryer tubs.
Store clothes in a scent-proof bag designed for long-term storage and make sure any duffel bags or backpacks you use are also cleaned and deodorized. This is a good habit to get into year-round, especially if your other clothing is washed with detergents that animals can smell while you’re hunting.
Avoid storing performance hunting gear in a garage, storage shed or basement, even if those spaces are relatively dry. Almost any kind of fabric is susceptible to mold and mildew, so a dry and temperature-controlled area is much better for clothes storage. Vacuum sealed storage bags can help to reduce the risk of mildew, bacterial growth and odors.
TENTS AND DEER BLINDS STORAGE
If you go on overnight hunting trips, your tent will inevitably need to be cleaned. Even if your tent looks relatively clean, unzip all the zippers and flaps and give it a thorough cleaning. It’s generally good to use an enzyme-based odor elimination or a specific cleaning solution from the tent manufacturer.
Deer blinds should be cleaned similarly, with care taken to remove all dirt from every corner and seam. Mud and dirt attract bugs and mold, which can easily damage your investment.
After a thorough cleaning, both tents and deer blinds should be air-dried and stored in a plastic container or an odor-blocking bag. Despite their durable fabric, tents and deer blinds can still be susceptible to mold and mildew if they are exposed to water. Ideally, they should be kept indoors instead of in a garage or shed.
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