I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, because in my experience they are all too easily broken and generally short-lived, but there is no doubt that the dawning of a new year brings with it a golden opportunity for self-reflection, a time to set goals for the upcoming year and reexamine your priorities.
Sure we can do all of that at any time during the year, but there is something about throwing out the old calendar for a new one, one with 12 clean and empty pages, that makes it a natural time.
If you watch television at all, you may have noticed that many of the commercials aired are geared towards people who have resolved to lose weight or get into shape in 2013; every other commercial is for a diet plan, diet pills, exercise machines, you-name-it. Sadly most of these resolutions don’t make it beyond the first month, and in a few months the classified ads, bulletin boards, etc. will be jammed with treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes.
In the spirit of setting people up for success, I have come up with a short list of pain-free resolutions especially geared towards the outdoor enthusiast. If you don’t believe in resolutions, consider it more a to-do list for the New Year.
First, buy your hunting and fishing license. Has it been a while since you’ve hunted or fished? The first step is making sure you have the right permits and licenses, and best of all you can buy them online and don’t even have to step foot out the door (not that I encourage a sedentary lifestyle, but it could be a foul-weather project). Even if you don’t use it much, buying a hunting or fishing license is probably the single best way to donate towards wildlife in your state.
Reward yourself with a new fishing rod and reel, and endeavor to use it a little more often; try out a new fishing or hunting spot, or make a new fishing partner.
Give your hunting rifle or shotgun a little TLC. We all know that firearms are meant to be cleaned after every use, but oftentimes we skip the thorough cleaning and substitute it for a quick wipe with an oily rag. A new gun is a pretty sizable investment, so take care of it. A good cleaning from butt to muzzle and everything in between, and a little target practice to hone your shooting skills can’t hurt a thing.
How about resolving to try out a new hunting spot or trying something different? Ever hunt for predators? Me neither, perhaps we should give it a try sometime.
If non-consumptive activities are more your thing, you can resolve to go camping at a state park, do some hiking or sight-seeing, or even go for a canoe trip. Get outside and do something!
Bird-watching, mushroom hunting, bicycle riding, star-gazing, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and best of all you can do most of these close-to-home at little to no cost.
During my own moments of self-reflection I have realized that my priorities have evolved over the years from hook-and-bullet to more appreciation for fitness and outdoor activities. I’ve probably peaked in my running and my knees are starting to show some signs of abuse (as a result of flat feet and my ungainly running style), so I too need to realistically examine what I can do and set appropriate goals.
Most of us can agree that a healthy, active lifestyle has its own benefits, so for my one tough resolution suggestion, how about running or walking a 5K race? While that distance (3.1 miles) might seem daunting for some, I firmly believe that most people - even those who are out of shape but otherwise healthy - can achieve it. You might not be the fastest, or even be able to run or jog the whole distance, but you are guaranteed to beat all of the people who never bothered to get off their couch.
Above all, expand your horizons, learn something new.
Speaking of which, want to learn about owls?
The Leading Creek Watershed Group in partnership with the Meigs SWCD is sponsoring a winter owl hike on Sunday, Jan. 20 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Meigs SWCD Conservation Area on New Lima Road between Rutland and Harrisonville.
The event will begin with a presentation by Ron Cass, professor of natural resources at Hocking College, and hot chocolate followed by the hike on the Conservation Area’s Pauline Atkins Memorial Trail. With any luck the weather, and the owls, will cooperate. During the hike participants will learn about owl calls, signs to look for, and investigate owls in the area.
The hike is free and open to people of all ages, but participants will need to provide their own flashlights and suitable footwear and clothing. For more information call the Meigs SWCD at 992-4282 or visit www.meigsswcd.com.
Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org