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A New Season Cometh
"Are you prepared?" asks Creekcrawler

Maybe it's not only the creeks that are creaking. Old Creekcrawler's bones are creaking a bit with age as well. Worse than that; as each new season approaches, the time seems to fly past more quickly and the space to think about preparing for the new season contracts in direct proportion to the intensity of the wrinkles on my brow.

Yet, come what may, there is no escaping the desirability of getting equipment and clothing into shape before Opening Day arrives. The first step into the estuary channel is no time to remember that your waders were beginning to leak last February. Get the patches out now!

Maybe I am making to much of this. If I am scrupulously honest (that'll be the day, as Buddy Holly may have said and probably did) I have to confess that modern technology has made it much easier than it was in my fowling heyday. Once upon a time gun barrels rusted if they were not cleaned after every outing. Nowadays I only clean my gun if it gets wet and I would not be surprised to find that it still has some of last year's powder residues on the inside surfaces of the barrels. My current Beretta seems to come to no harm for such neglect.

If, on the other hand, you use an old 8 or 4-bore, then you really should take it out and give it a good strip and clean before the season starts..

Clothing, too, is much less maintenance-dependent than it once was. If you're over 50 you probably remember when it was necessary to re-proof your Barbour every year. I claim credit for revolutionising this task by telling the sportsmen of Britain that sticking the damn thing in the tumble-dryer for 20 minutes made the application of the proofing compound a dawdle. Nowadays, however, you buy a Goretex interlined Mossy Oak cammo coat and throw it away after five years when it gets to ragged for even a fowling flunky.

There still are one or two tasks that should be undertaken in preparation for the new season. For example, take the decoys out of the garage and check that their lines are untangled and the weights still attached. Five a.m. on opening morning is not time to throw them into the flood and find that the casually drift away in the breeze due to rotted strings.

Also check that you have a few of those new-fangled non-toxic cartridges to hold out for the warden if he needs to check that you are not shooting lead. I believe that there is a black market in bismuth, tungsten, tin and plutonium cartridge cases for reloading with the proper stuff. But you never heard that from me!

Anyway, the editor told me not to ramble on too much and, as my whisky glass needs topping up, I'll finish there and wish you all the very best of luck in the coming season.

May your powder be dry and your shot straight.

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