By Don Mallicoat- Go ahead and make your resolutions for the New Year to eat less, exercise more, or stop smoking I will continue offer up my outdoor resolutions for the upcoming year. I must admit failing miserably in the past. Like many others work, shortage of time, and other commitments kept me from attaining them. Looking back on the ones from last year very few get a check mark or gold star. This year will be different I feel. We are no longer in the retail business and some part time work should allow more time to get important (i.e. hunting and fishing) things done. Let’s do this chronologically with a couple of “firsts” still on the list.
For me January and February are prime times for grouse hunting. Old Ben languished in the kennel for most of the season last year because of work and weather. This year I plan to get out for at least two to three hours each week in pursuit of the King of Gamebirds. Many people have given up on grouse hunting here in the mountains as their habitat and numbers dwindle. We’ve had a couple of good breeding seasons and grouse numbers seem to be up slightly. Let’s make up for lost opportunities.
I’m going to kill a goose. In other words prove that I am smarted than a goose. Early season was interrupted by a shoulder injury but what few times I’ve been out they zig when I zag. Scout them in one field on Monday; set up in that field Wednesday and they choose another field. Persistence pays off! I’ll just have to keep at it and one day connect.
After hunting season ends my thoughts turn immediately to a couple of things: sporting clays and fishing. First, I want to score over 80 on a 100 round course of sporting clays. I came tantalizingly close last year with a 78. After a score that close you think for hours about the 2 – 3 targets you missed that could have given you the number. I’ve been able to shoot consistently in the high 60s to low 70s this past year but just not breaking into the 80s. The basic skills are there; it’s just focus and concentration that are missing. And more practice!
It will require much negotiation and give and take with the family CEO/COO, but I want to start a new pup this spring. A lifelong setter man, it may be time to try a different breed. Based on my current hunting style (I’ve slowed down a bit through the years) and the game I hunt a Boykin Spaniel looks like the best choice. Working a puppy puts a youthful spring in my step. Again, the negotiation part will be critical.
Every year I make resolutions to do more fishing that goes unaccomplished. Time to do so is no longer the bandit it was. Trout streams beckon so I’ve got to get the gear ready. My good friend Dale still holds out hope to take me bass fishing. It would be nice to do some Spring crappie fishing to bring back memories of slabs on Weiss Lake in Alabama from my youth. I need a boat. Uh oh, there’s another expense to clear with the CEO.
Next up is Spring turkey season. I still haven’t harvested a turkey in this twilight period in my life. I’ve given it a half-hearted shot in the past. Again thanks to the time bandit. This year I get serious with some pre-season scouting. Just want to experience luring in a tom, bringing him to bag, and the savory taste of smoked wild turkey. The one thing I do know: I’ll never get one if I’m not in the woods.
After turkey season I’ll spend most of my time working the new pup (hopefully) and get in some different kinds of fishing. There is something relaxing about standing knee deep in a trout stream. Maybe that quest to go walleye fishing will hit home this year. There will be more sporting clays to work on attaining that 80 number. Maybe a couple of registered shoots.
My last resolution is simple: kill a deer. A lifelong upland hunter, it has never been something high on my list of things to do with limited free time. This will be the year. Not for trophy necessarily, but more for the experience and to put meat in the freezer. Thanks to the generosity of friends the CEO and I have grown fond of venison. Happy New Year!