I hate the phrase, “New year, new me.” We often look to the new year as a slate wiped clean, a chance to toss away our old selves and begin again. But the reality is we can’t throw our past away, because it is a part of who we are now. Instead, we should look at the new year and our resolutions not as a chance to begin again, but as a time to advance ourselves and plan what changes we will make for the better. For a lot of us this means getting in shape, quitting smoking, changing jobs, or proposing marriage, which are all well and good. But in addition to these, there are more personal resolutions we hunters can make, too. So with the new year beginning, here are a few ideas to make the 2021 hunting season the best one yet and to make ourselves better hunters.
Raising our standards
While getting meat in the freezer is rightly priority number one for most hunters, we all dream of trophy animals. And while the possibility of that dream buck walking by your stand or monster bull elk coming in to your calls is always there, the reality is that by taking the first legal animal we see, we are diminishing our chances of ever taking that true trophy by using our tag on less impressive specimens. What’s more, by killing smaller and younger animals, we are removing the potential for those animals to grow into trophies. So, a good resolution is to pass up a few chances at smaller game. Give yourself an antler point or age restriction and stick to it in 2021, at least until the last day or two of the season. While this may seem ludicrous to my fellow meat hunters, it is a risk that is worth the reward.
Adding to our quiver
We all have our favorites. Those tree stands we’ve given nicknames, those mountain ranges we return to every year, those tried-and-true techniques that never seem to fail. Yet by sticking to these we are limiting ourselves as hunters. Instead, try expanding your horizons this year. Start planning on hunting a new area, a new state, or a new species. Try to learn a new hunting technique like tracking or bowhunting. Try your hand at small-game hunting, waterfowling, or muzzleloading. Do something outside of the usual and make yourself a more well-rounded hunter.
Living the dream
Everybody has that one hunt, that one animal we have always been fascinated by, that one place we’ve always wanted to go, that one trophy we’ve always dreamed about. Well if this past year has taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s around the corner, so why keep waiting on your dream? Granted, the pandemic has limited a lot of travel opportunities, but unless you have your heart set on chasing red stag in Europe and nothing else will do, that doesn’t mean you can’t go on the socially distant solo hunt you have always fantasized about. Start planning now. Start putting in for the tags you want. Start looking at the region for outfitters you can afford or public land you can access. Even if it’s a hunt you can’t pull off this year, take a step or two toward doing it next year. Make a resolution to start making your dream hunt a reality.
We should all stop looking at the new year as a clean slate, but rather as an extension of the dirty, dust-covered, scratched-up one we already have. A new year means a new hunting season is eventually coming and with it comes an opportunity to find ways to be out there more and to better enjoy the outdoor world we already know and love.