A few new year resolutions for the outdoorsman

We all have some form of bad habit that needs to be resolved. For outdoorsmen, the list can be quite extensive.

Many outdoor sports are hit or miss, this is because of the vast array of things that can go wrong. Recognizing that you are doing something wrong is the first step in correcting the problem. Researching what to do to rectify the mistake should follow immediately after identifying it. A plan can then be made to correct the problem. You then must hold yourself to the changes required or be doomed to relive the mistakes of the past.

On the other side of the coin, you can have a successful outing, yet react improperly and have to work harder than needed. Even worse, you may lose the valuable meat that was so hard to obtain. To me, true success should be measured not by the amount of meat harvested, but by what is utilized and not wasted.

If youíre having trouble harvesting deer, the first thing you should attempt to observe and react to is the wind. If there is good sign on the ground you hunt, yet you see nothing, you are likely being winded. I recommend identifying all of your stand sites on a map, then identifying which wind directions are favorable. To do this, you must first be able to interpret where the deer are bedding and feeding. If the rut is on, you may have to alter your normal plan to accommodate cruising bucks.

My advice for a wind resolution would be to never enter a stand site that is not conducive to that dayís pattern. This may cause you to sit in one stand only to abandon it when conditions change as expected. You may then choose to make your way to another site that favors the change in direction. Unfortunately, you may have to stay home if you donít have stands that favor a certain wind direction. This is why another resolution could be to place several stands as to accommodate any wind.

I encountered a situation this past bow season that has caused me to create a new outdoor resolution. I had been seeing the tracks of a nice buck all over the hill I was hunting. On the way into the woods for an afternoon hunt, I recognized the deer had crossed one of my cut trails several times the last couple days. I made the right decision and changed my game plan to focus on the hot trail. When I entered the wood line, it was hard to determine which direction he would likely approach from. I made my best guess and set up. I was sitting the ground and only had a few trees to choose from that I could sit at. When I sat down, I got the overwhelming feeling that I was too close to where the deer may cross. I decided to ignore my instincts and stayed put.

As instincts serve, the buck appeared and approached exactly as I had feared. The trail would only offer a broadside shot once the deer closed to under 10 yards. I only had a small tree about the size of a large coffee can to block the deerís view as I attempted to draw. I made my move when he went behind it, but he was walking at a steady pace, which didnít give me enough time to draw and settle. He spotted the movement and bounded off to live another year. This was the nicest deer I saw all season, and it likely lived because I chose to ignore my instincts. The obvious resolution to this issue is to always follow your instinct, it tends to be right more often than not.

Properly packaging and storing harvested game is imperative to its longevity. While the meat from deer tends to last up to a couple years, if vacuum packed, it may freezer burn in less than one year if stored in the normal zip top bags. Small game has a half-year shelf life in the zip top, and a full year in a vacuum bag.

Fish tend to be the most susceptible to freezer burn. Besides large fish, like salmon, most can be ruined in just a couple months. I love fried fish, and have attempted to have some on hand for whenever the craving hits. Upon digging out my last batch of fillets, I realized they had been freezer burned to the point of being inedible. This has happened to me more than once, which calls for some kind of change. I can only envision what fun could have been had by others catching them had I not wasted the fish. On top of that, they were unable to reproduce which further hinders the fishery. Ashamed is the best word used to describe how wasting game makes me feel. As for this yearís resolution ,I have decided, that from now on, I will only eat fresh pan fish.

Itís likely that all of us outdoors people have been guilty of such mistakes a time or two. The trick is recognizing the mistake and preventing it in the future. If you find yourself in a similar situation, itís your responsibility to resolve it. Please donít allow yourself to be part of the problem, be the one who finds a solution to it.

Good wishes and a Happy New Year to all.

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