If you’re like most of us outdoorsy people, you’re undoubtedly feeling the cabin fever pretty strongly right now. It’s spring, we’re supposed to be out there living it up and seeing everything greening up and finally stretching our legs without a parka on. A lot of us had big plans, from solo trips to family outings, and a lot of those plans have been scuttled.
I’ve always been the kind of person who rolls with the punches when it comes to a change of plans. For example, last deer and elk seasons everyone else in my party had things come up last minute so they couldn’t go, and I wasn’t able to afford the out-of-state tags because my old truck decided it was time for several repairs that duct tape and baling twine just weren’t going to solve. I could have saved the PTO (plus some money and gas) and stayed home. Instead I thought, “If I don’t get out this October, I’m going to regret it by November 1st.” So, I went alone, just a guy in the woods for five days with his trusty over/under .22LR/20ga looking for upland game and not sweating the pressure of potential tag soup. Turns out, it was one of the best October multi-day hunting trips I’ve ever been on, just because I adapted to the situation and went with the flow when plans changed.
Which brings us to our present situation. We’re getting conflicting information every day, with advice to get outdoors to beat the indoor blues from one side, and announcements of closures of outdoor recreation areas from the other side. Things are changing fast, it feels like the world is shrinking, and the walls are starting to come in. But it doesn’t have to feel that way, and with a little flexibility, we can get out there and still do what we love, albeit with some adaptation. Here are a few ideas we’ve come up with and heard from our friends all over the country. Of course, stay safe, practice social distancing, and check the government websites related to your activity before you go (like BLM, Forest Service, Fish & Game, state & county sites, etc.). Be mindful of safety and not getting out there too far, as our medical system is already stressed and landing yourself in the ER with a broken leg or needing vital resources diverted for a Search & Rescue operation would be the absolute worst timing right now.
- Go Fishing – If you’re in an area where fishing is permitted, take advantage of it and get those hooks in the water. It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, just getting out there will be rewarding enough.
- Spring Hunting – There are still hunts open in many areas, so it’s worth looking into. Spring bear tags might be available in your area, and if you have a little unexpected time off you might want to consider giving it a try. Spring turkey is really taking off this year, we’ve had folks from all over the country tell us that they’ve never seen so many turkey hunters out, and they’re seeing a lot of success.
- Go Camping – It might seem a little chilly right now, but nothing clears the mind like a camping trip. Even a quick overnighter can blow off a lot of that built-up self-isolation steam.
- Take A Hike – Even if it’s just around the local park. Everyone’s hearing about National Parks and local trails closing down, but don’t let that keep you on the couch. If you can summit your local peak, by all means, get up there! But if you’re restricted to just walking around the neighborhood, then do that. Any time outdoors is good for you, even if you can’t get as far out there as you would normally prefer to.
- Backyard Breathing Room – If you can’t do any of the things we’ve talked about so far due to local restrictions, or even if you can, don’t forget about your own backyard. There’s fresh air out there, too. If the kids are climbing the walls, take them camping out in the yard where there’s still access to a proper bathroom and handwashing facilities in the house. Fire up the pellet grill and make a night of it. Take the time to teach them how to pitch tents, start a campfire (in an approved pit, of course), and any other little tricks that you may have overlooked in the past and just done for them instead. Homeschooling should always include Outdoor Education, which is both Science and Physical Education, and gives kids a practical application for abstract ideas that they may have only seen on a screen somewhere.
- Hang A Hammock – Suppose you live in a very urban area, an apartment building, or some other situation where all you have is a balcony for outdoor access. If that’s the case, you’re still not out of the game. Hang a hammock on the balcony and relax outside that way. Read a book or even make a night of it for a little light urban camping.
Hopefully some of these suggestions will help you start thinking up your own alternatives for outdoor activity so you can get out there as much as possible and keep from going stir-crazy. We’re all in this one together, so stay safe and remember that this will be over eventually, when we can get back to our normal everyday routines.