With 2012 in the books we all should be looking forward to an active and joyous 2013. It's not too early to begin to plan activities that will keep us busy in the new ear. While we all have to contend withwhat are normally the most extreme of weather conditions this time of the year, there are plenty of things we can do that tie us to our outdoor activities and prepare us for the upcoming times we will spend in the great outside. Here are some thoughts for early year activities:
1. Organize: When the weather keeps us inside during this time of the year it's a great opportunity to organize all our gear in preparation of upcoming activities. Go through your "stuff", wash and pack away outdoor clothes you won't need for a while. Sort through the needed items to see what may have to be replaced before you hit the woods again. (This is often the time when many retailers put last year's gear on sale, so take advantage of discounted prices on those items you may need this coming year.)
2. Protect: If you are a deer hunter that relies on stands now is the time to get them out of the woods and into cover. Inclimate weather will dry rot and rusty stands left out over the year. Trees will pinch connection straps and chains as they begin their spring growth. Pull in your stands and, when time andweather allows, sand, lubricate and apply new coats of paint if needed. They will then be ready when it's time to put those stands into the woods, and you won't have to scramble to do last minute repairs.
3. Get out and scout: This is the ideal time to get into those areas you've always wanted to walk through to look for last season sign and better understand the property you hunt. It's also a great time to begin to scout for the upcoming turkey season and get an idea of how your turkey flocks are doing through the winter months. It also helps in your efforts to keep yourself in shape and meet some of those New Year resolutions, like losing some weight.
4. Volunteer: This is a great time to look for opportunities to volunteer for outdoor projects. If you are one that uses state or federal lands to either hunt and pursue other outdoor activities, you will often find that opportunities exist to add your name to volunteer activities that may include trash removal, trail clearing or repair of facilities. Check with your local department of natural resources to see what may be scheduled in the early part of the year. I'm fortunate that a great outdoor store is close by that promotes volunteer activities in the area. We frequently stop by to see what is going on locally that we may be able to assist with, and that offers great reasons to be in the outdoors.
5. Find something new to do: I've often written about many of the outdoor activities I enjoy outside of my love of hunting and fishing. Hiking and camping are two of those activities. If you have not been into hiking or camping this is a great time of the year to give it a shot. Campgrounds tend to be less visited, as do hiking trails during the coldest time of the year. Yet, cold nights around a campfire are exhilarating, as is snuggling in the warmth of a good sleeping bag. Hiking provides the opportunity to see the woods and forests in a different light, with wide open views for long distances. While the exercise is worth the effort, so is the opportunity to see wildlife as it searches for hard to find food sources.
6. Start a"diary": Sometimes I don't think I remember all the activities I've participated in over the course of a year. Consider starting a journal to keep track of all the activities you involve yourself in over the course of the year. It's fun to reflect on the miles you've hiked, the wildlife you've seen, the camping you've done, the fish you've caught, and the preparations you've made and your progress through the year. A diary or journal can provide you with reading enjoyment, that you can share with family and friends as you recollect the times you've spend in the out of doors throughout the year. It may also provide you with great information as you plan hunts that will occur later in the year such assightings of wildlife, sign you've found in new areas, hiking trails that have given you the most enjoyment and where the best camping sites are. The journal will also be a constant reminder of the enjoyment you've experienced throughout the year.
Happy New Year and get active!