By Dan Kidder
We all like to make New Year’s Resolutions. To be more frugal, lose weight, work less, etc. But I sat down and came up with a list of Ten New Year’s Resolutions specifically for the outdoorsman and woman. Here is my list. What are yours?
1. Spend More Time Outdoors
It was a strange year for me. Because of the busy filming schedule, testing products, sickness, and a heavy teaching schedule, I didn’t get to spend one single night camping under the stars this year. I didn’t get to spend a single day on the water fishing. You would think that for a guy who makes his living testing camping, fishing, and hunting gear, I would spend more time camping and fishing. So, this year I am going to make some time for me to get outside and spend more time hunting, camping, and fishing this year. Even if they are just quick overnight trips.
One aspect of the outdoors that I really do enjoy is teaching. I spend many weekends teaching people survival, shooting, backpacking, and other various outdoor skills. It is my goal this year to spend even more time mentoring others and helping to create more users of the outdoors so that we can continue to introduce new people to our outdoor activities. Both young people, as well as adults who maybe didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness when they were younger, will benefit from more opportunities to learn from someone who is more experienced and it will help preserve our outdoor traditions and wild places.
3. Make it Better Than I Found It
It is one thing to strive to follow Leave No Trace principles when enjoying the outdoors, and I am a big advocate of LNT. (lnt.org) The downside to following LNT is that most see it as just not making an impact on the wilderness and removing their own impact. I want to take things to the next level, and work to actively improve wild places. Yes, packing out my trash is great, but even better is packing out everyone’s trash. Holding clean-up events to encourage others to help clean up outdoor areas. Fixing picnic areas that have become dilapidated will encourage people to use those areas rather than creating new areas that would better remain pristine. Work with your local park service office, BLM, rangers, etc. to see where they need help and find things that they may not have the time or resources to maintain and see where you can help.
4. Try Something New
We all have our outdoor activities that we excel at and know how to do well. There are dozens of other activities that I have been wanting to try, but just have never gotten around to. Perhaps you are a spin caster and have always wanted to try fly fishing. Maybe you are a hiker, but really want to take it up a notch and try your hand at canyoneering. Maybe you have only ever hunted turkey and want to try elk. Heck, maybe this is the year you launch yourself out of a perfectly good airplane. Whatever it is, find a new activity you haven’t tried before, and give it a shot. You may discover your next new passion.
5. Learn A New Outdoor Skill
This may sound like number 4, but it is far more involved. Every person who enjoys the outdoors has learned the skills necessary to be successful in that activity. This year, I want to master a new skill that will help me be more successful as a general outdoor practitioner. Maybe it will be navigation with a map and compass. Maybe wilderness survival in general or more specifically making a fire with a hand drill. Maybe it will be how to clean and quarter a big game animal or process my own meat. Don’t just try the skill, but actually set out to master it.
It is natural for us to get proficient with our skill-set and then get complacent. Most outdoor skills like archery, shooting, fly tying, casting, etc. are diminishing skills. If we don’t practice them, we lose them. I know that I spent far less time on the range this year than I ever have, and my shooting shows it. I resolve to spend far more time practicing, especially long-range rifle shooting so that I can maintain and improve my accuracy. I am also planning on getting the bow out and slinging far more arrows than I did last year.
7. Upgrade A Piece of Gear
Speaking of archery, I have been using the same bow now for about 10 years. This year I aim to replace that bow with something newer. If you have been hunting in the same ratty camo for the past 25 years, maybe this is the year you get something newer that has better technical properties. Maybe it is time to toss out that 50-year-old green Coleman white gas stove in favor of a more efficient propane model. And those old boots with the slick soles held on with 20 layers of Shoe Goo, it is time to let them go and invest in a new pair. Seriously. You will thank me.
8. Get in Sheep(ish) Shape
Each year, I start out with the goal of hiking 2,000 miles. Most years, I meet the goal and last year, I exceeded it by about 500 miles. That worked out, because this year I fell short by about 500 miles. As part of my goal to get out more, it will help me enjoy my time more and have less chance of injury if I can get in better shape. I don’t need to get into sheep shape, but I do need to make a concerted effort to spend more time working on my fitness and less time working on fittin’ this pizza in my mouth. Time to eat better and spend more time being active so I can better enjoy the activity portion of the outdoors. Besides, I won’t feel as sheepish in a pair of swim trunks.
9. Make Me and My Family Safer
I am a crazy prepper guy, so I am pretty solid on food storage, guns, ammo, water, and all of that stuff, but maybe this is the year you finally create that 72-hour kit you have been putting off. Maybe it is time to get your concealed carry permit and start carrying. Maybe it is the year you finally take an advanced home protection class. Maybe you install one of those fancy camera doorbells or upgrade the locks. Pick one way to make you and your family safer and follow through to make it happen. I resolve to carry a trauma kit with a tourniquet on my person every day.
10. Stop and Smell the Wildflowers
I am that guy who gets so focused on planning every detail of an activity that I seldom stop and look at the clouds or take a deep breath and enjoy the sunset from the top of a mountain. What is the point of getting outside if we never really stop to appreciate the beauty all around us? Yes, there are times when I have 12 hours of hiking ahead of me and only 10 hours of sunlight, but if I already know that I am going to be making that killer ascent in the dark, what does it matter if I spend one more hour soaking in the beauty around me? The activity is fun, but don’t get so focused on the activity that you miss the awe-inspiring majesty of God’s creation.
11. BONUS RESOLUTION: Get Organized
This is really a left over from 2019 and something that I have been working on all year. As I go through the gear stacked floor to ceiling in the 53-foot shipping container that serves as my gear storage, I am realizing how much junk I don’t need and how detrimental it has become to my enjoyment of the outdoors. I finally threw out that green stiff baitcasting rod that I have been hauling all over the country for the last 25 years because one day I was going to fix the broken tip. I discovered that though I only have two kayaks, I have four anchors because I couldn’t find one when I needed it, so I bought another one. Twice! I have 40 pairs of earmuffs for shooting though I never run a class larger than 20 students. Fifteen sleeping bags, eight camp stoves, 11 tents, 16 coolers, and the list goes on and on. I literally have two five-gallon buckets full of knives! I have been organizing the best gear and giving away to friends and family the stuff that I don’t ever use and have been paying thousands of dollars to store for decades. All of the stuff that is worn out, missing parts, or broken is going to the dump. Clear out the clutter so you can find what you need and share your overabundance with others to help them fill the gaps in their gear collection.
Hopefully, I can make a dent in this list and become more focused on my enjoyment of the outdoors for 2020. Have a great New Year and I hope to bump into you on the trail. Shoot me a note on Facebook @sportsmansnews and let me know what your outdoors New Year’s resolutions are.