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Art Lander’s Outdoors: It’s a good time for outdoor types to declutter the Man Cave

A life in the outdoors yields memories of times afield with family and friends, a few trophies, and lots of stuff.

Stand back and take a realistic look at your stuff. Outdoor types tend to be borderline hoarders and like to upgrade gear through the years, so they may have two, or three, of the same item.

Is your Man Cave, extra bedroom, basement or garage overflowing with hunting and fishing gear? Winter is a good time to get organized. It’s hard, I know. Decluttering is a daunting task. Let’s get started with a few tactics recommended by experts:

* Organize by category

To get the process started, lump everything into categories. Start with the books, guides, magazines (and clippings), gear catalogues and paper maps. Next, clothing, including T-shirts, pants, bib overalls, jackets, ball caps, sock caps, gloves, boots, long underwear and socks.

Does your garage look like this? Is it overflowing with hunting and fishing gear? Winter is a good time to get organized (Photo Provided)

Does your garage look like this? Is it overflowing with hunting and fishing gear? Winter is a good time to get organized (Photo Provided)

Then rods and reels, tackle boxes, lures, fishing accessories (floats, hooks, sinkers, swivels, and line), rod holders, boating supplies, landing nets, and miscellaneous outerwear such as waders, hip boots and rain gear.

Next, move to hunting gear — bows and arrows, and archery accessories (range finders, broadheads, field points, mechanical releases, etc.), old gun cases, gun cleaning kits, shell boxes, ammunition, hunting blinds and treestands.

Finally, sort through decoys, game calls, treestand accessories and reloading equipment.

Pile up all the stuff, one category at a time, and make an honest appraisal. Handle each piece of gear and take a good look at it. Is this something you need and use, or something you don’t use anymore? Decide what goes and what stays.

* For items you don’t want, there are several options: discard, sell, give to a family member or friend, or donate.

Toss out the old gear catalogues. If you kept a magazine it’s probably because of an article that caught your eye. If you want the article, cut it out, otherwise put old magazines in a garbage bag or recycling bin.

Throw away tattered old hunting clothing, ragged boat cushions, old boots with holes, greasy ball caps, hunting socks with holes, spools of old fishing line, and any broken, or obsolete gear that’s not valuable.

Gear you don’t want, but is valuable, may be sold. Never underestimate what something might bring, if you can find the right buyer.

Check www.amazon.com for book values. A book you don’t want anymore might be valuable if it’s out of print, or is a first edition. Another option is to give books to your local library.

Peruse www.ebay.com for what outdoor gear is in demand, and what the going price is for good, used gear. Manufacturer websites are a good source of product information, such as model numbers, retail prices and colors currently available.

By searching E-bay I found out that two packages of plastic worms that were given to me years ago, but I never used, were hard to find, and in demand because of limited availability. I put the worms on E-bay and they sold in a matter of days, and the buyer paid the shipping.

If you find something that you think a family member or friend might want, ring them up and give them first dibs.

Remember, there’s always a good place nearby to donate serviceable items. It’s www.goodwill.org.

Old tackle boxes, fishing rods and reels, camouflage clothing and boots that the kids have outgrown, are prime giveaways. Goodwill makes a few bucks and you pass the gear onto someone who wants it but may not be able to afford to buy it new.

* For items you want to keep, choose an organization and storage option.

It’s time consuming and you’ll have to spend some money, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Organizing stuff has many benefits — you know where it is, and you can put it back in its place so you can find it the next time. Also, having one category of stuff in one place keeps the clutter down, and makes future culling fast and easy, when you buy new stuff.

A metal file cabinet is a good option for saving clippings, paper maps and guides, keepsake photographs, outdoor magazines and books, paperwork (warranties) and instructions that come with the gear you buy, copies of hunting licenses and permits, Telecheck logs and outdoor DVDs.

If a closet is available in the room where you store your hunting clothes, hang up jackets, pants, shirts, bib overalls and vests.

But if there’s no closet, or space is an issue, nothing beats latch totes.

A good choice for clothes is the Sterilite 22 gallon latch tote, which measures 24 1/2 inches long, by 18 5/8 inches wide, and 17 5/8 inches high. They are durable, waterproof and mouseproof, as the lid fits tightly, secured by sturdy latches. To save space, stack the totes on top of one another.

Use one tote for warm weather hunting clothes, including spring turkey hunting and fall bow hunting, and another tote for cold weather clothing and orange vests, worn when hunting deer or upland game.

Hunting clothes that have been washed in unscented detergent can be stored in latch totes with a handful of cedar shavings to keep them smelling like the woods. Tape on a small sign so you’ll know what’s in each tote. For more details visit: www.sterilite.com.

Free-standing racks and rod cases are a good way to store fishing rods, but an inexpensive option is to make your own rod holder from a milk crate, a section of two-inch PVC pipe and eight-inch plastic electrical ties.

Cut an 11-inch section of pipe, stand it up in the crate and use two electrical ties to fasten the pipe to the crate. These do-it-yourself rod holders are popular with kayak anglers. When not on the water, rods and reels can be stored vertically wherever you keep your fishing gear.

Avoid messy tackle boxes. One option is to organize lures and other tackle in separate boxes, by type — crankbaits, top water, jigs, plastic baits, and terminal tackle (hooks, sinkers, swivels). Plano Stow Away Utility boxes are clear and come in a variety of sizes and configurations. When you’re headed out on a fishing trip, just grab the boxes you’ll need and put them in your tackle bag.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

For more details visit: http://www.planomolding.com/. Click on fishing, and scroll down to Stow Away Utility Boxes.

For small amounts of hunting and fishing gear, try Hefty 15-quart totes. They are clear, stackable, and measure about 16 3/4 inches wide, by 12 inches deep and 6 1/2 inches high. For more details visit: http://www.hefty.com/.

For safety and security, all firearms should be stored in a gun safe. Yes, gun safes are expensive, but think of them as a household necessity. Safes are the best place to lock up rifles, shotguns and handguns, but also personal valuables like old tax returns (that list your family’s social security numbers), credit cards, cash and books of blank checks.

The ideal situation is to have a metal storage locker for ammunition, and other valuable outdoor gear like binoculars, range finders, knives, and portable depth finders.

Plastic ammo boxes are ideal for storing ammunition, shotgun choke tubes, gun cleaning supplies, game calls, extra rifle magazines, and reloading gear, including brass, primers and powder.

Tape on a small sign so you know what’s in each box. For more details visit: http://www.cabelas.com and search for dry storage ammunition boxes.

Get organized. Now is best time to de-clutter your gear and take an inventory of what you need and what you don’t use anymore. When spring comes you’ll be ready for the next hunting or fishing adventure.


Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for NKyTribune and KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

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