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The Roving Sportsman… New Year’s Resolutions

It is that time of year to make our traditional New Year’s Resolutions — you know -that list of things we know we should follow, but rarely seem to accomplish! So really, the first step is to promise ourselves that this year we will make that list and be much more conscientious about following it. As sportsmen, we have some special considerations that we should consider as we plan out our year’s list. Here are a few suggestions you might want to add to your list:

Get in Shape by Doing More Scouting: Everyone always seems to place weight loss or getting in shape at the top of their lists. Actually doing it, however, seems to be the most difficult to accomplish — after all, exercise can get so routine and boring! As hunters and outdoor folks, we are always seeking to better our odds against clever whitetails and wary gobblers.

When winter snow cover blankets our landscape, we have the opportunity to hike our favorite trails and logging roads and learn more about the travel patterns and habits of the game we pursue. Soon, the bucks will be dropping their antlers and we can add shed antler hunting to our wintertime and springtime activities. Placing out and monitoring trail cameras now will help identify just what game made it through the hunting seasons and allow us to set a plan for the fall hunting season.

One of the most important exercises we can engage in is hiking, which increases our ability to go further and less strenuously as we hunt. All of the above activities will allow you to hike your favorite locations as you scout out the areas, look for shed antlers or maintain your string of trail cameras.

Become Active in a Conservation Organization: Over the years, each and every one of us has benefited from the tireless efforts of other sportsmen and women through the time they spend volunteering with one conservation group or another. Everyone, whether they are sportsmen or not, can enjoy bird watching, wildlife observation and photography, hunting, fishing and the wonders of nature because others have spent their time and energy to help ensure that these wonders will be here for all to enjoy for decades to come. Isn’t it time you too get involved? There are plenty of clubs and organizations to get involved with. Along the way, you will make new friends who share your interests and goals, learn more about the outdoors and enjoy a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment by volunteering and doing things that benefit all wildlife.

While many of these groups became organized with the thought of helping a specific species of wildlife, they have all expanded their mission statements to include other species, and goals such as habitat improvement, hunter education and recruitment, firearm safety and public education and relationship. Great examples of organizations that are active in our area are the National Rifle Association (NRA), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Trout Unlimited (TU), Ducks Unlimited (DU), Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS), and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) — among others. Pick one or two of these organizations, join and get involved.

Become a Mentor: In case you were not aware, Pennsylvania was the very first state to adopt a Mentored Youth Hunting Program. Through the years since its introduction, it has expanded and been refined to allow an adult mentor to teach youths the safe and ethical ways to hunt and enjoy the out of doors. It is a very rewarding experience to mentor a young person who is eager to learn more about woodsmanship, hunting, shooting and the wonders of nature. We each have a clear responsibility to help preserve our hunting heritage for generations to come and becoming a mentor is one very effective and enjoyable way to do just that.

Share the Harvest: Ever consider hosting a “Game Dinner”? No, it doesn’t have to be a large group, merely one or two couples who have never really tried properly prepared wild game. Over the years, I have heard all of the objections to game meats. Most of those objections can easily be overcome through proper field care and preparation in the kitchen for presentation at the table. Many times, when the food is prepared and presented properly, folks who previously did not enjoy wild game dishes are pleasantly surprised. We, as sportsmen, have an obligation to share our passions any way possible, and this is just one more way we can recruit the support of a person who might otherwise not appreciate what hunting is all about.

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