First, let’s get an easy one out of the way. I hereby resolve to spend more time hunting and fishing, especially fishing. Like a lot of you I’ve let work get in the way of enjoying life. It’s really not that hard to keep the fly rod in the truck and sneak out after work in the evening for an hour our two on the stream. Heck, I can be at the French Broad River in less than fifteen minutes on my way home. My first outdoor experience was farm pond fishing with my Dad when I was six. He wasn’t a hunter but loved to fish for bass and especially crappie. We had many good hours together and I want to reconnect with those times. There’s no excuse except for laziness and letting work get in the way.
I resolve to get even more serious about goose hunting. I did that last year and spent a lot of time in the fields with limited success. This year my efforts have been abysmal. But then again, geese haven’t been behaving as they have in the past. The summer drought forced farmers to cut corn early and water levels were low. Then when the first split of the season arrived with continued warm weather they just didn’t behave like normal. Next year I’ll do more preseason scouting. I also need to invest in some more decoys besides the measly dozen I have now.
Another perennial resolution: This is the year I pass the 80 target mark at sporting clays. I came close with a 79 once this year. I recently learned a valuable lesson that I already knew about this: practice, practice, practice. The late Gene Hill said the best shotgun coach was a case of shells. More time on the range is required to achieve this one.
I hereby resolve to get more serious about turkey hunting this year. This is another one I keep saying but doing nothing about. Again, it would be easy to do. I could go hunting in the morning before work and just get there right before opening. And there are plenty of turkeys out there for the taking even with the negative poult survey by the Commission this summer. I was leaving the shotgun range the other day and saw a flock of about thirty in a field right beside the road. I’ve got all the accoutrements. Again, time is the issue.
If you have followed this column you know I recently lost my older setter Ginny. I hereby resolve to start a new puppy this Spring. Couple of problems besides the work schedule. First, my wife isn’t too excited about the idea of another dog. I’m getting close to retirement age and she has ideas about travelling and another dog would hamper those plans. I’m gonna have to be a good boy and keep my nose clean to pull this one off. Second, I’ve been a setter guy for thirty years now. My heart says stick with the breed I love. My head says a Boykin Spaniel would be a better choice for flushing grouse and retrieving dove and ducks. Since March is typically a good time to start a pup I’ve got a little time to figure this one out. How to sneak a dog into the house is another matter.
And last, but most importantly, I resolve to introduce someone to hunting; either a youth or even someone older. I’m at an age now where leaving a legacy behind is important. Hunting has been an integral part of my life for fifty years now. It’s time to pass that experience to another generation. Since our kids are grown and gone and my grandchildren are still too young I guess I’ll have to look outside the immediate family. Maybe the opportunity will walk through the front door of the store. All I know right now is it is something that needs to be done to keep our sport going.
Happy New Year!