The best resolutions

Sooner or later we all do it. Every January a book of resolutions is offered up by people of all ages. Unfortunately the binding is not strong enough to hold it all together and after a few short weeks the only thing left are a few ripped pages. Yes, these annual promises make a liar out of most of us.

Health oriented resolutions are the most popular, often the most difficult and frequently, the first to go. Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more and imbibe less are all favorites, at least for a few short weeks.

Then there are long term resolutions like painting the house next spring when the weather warms or doing some serious landscaping as a family project. Seems like a great idea in the dead of winter, but as soon as the weather warms there are hundreds more important and fun things to do instead.

To me, the facts seem surprisingly clear. New Year’s promises concerning health, home or business are not necessary to maintain yearlong integrity. You see, we should have a different mindset regarding annual resolutions, and set goals that are easily achievable, uplifting and enjoyable.

And don’t let age be a factor when making these types of resolutions; you need to start as young adults, because whoever decided 50 was the new middle-aged needs to be switched with a casting rod. After all, how many 100 year-olds do you know? Did I mention the promise to treat people nicer during the oncoming year is usually the second resolution to go!

For example, if you only made it out to deer hunt five days last year, then you’re just going to have to resolve yourself to pursue whitetails 10 times next fall. If you have neglected spending time afield small game hunting, then you will just have to bite the bullet and force yourself to make time gunning for rabbits, squirrels or maybe pheasant.

There may be family members or friends who need mentoring in the art of bass fishing or wading our area’s creeks and streams. Plan to spend more time on the water.

This may be the year you have to buck-up, keep a stiff upper lip and order that new St. Croix custom made rod you’ve always wanted. After all, the other 10 you have are already several years old.

Perhaps you and yours will just have to resolve yourselves into a new SUV, 4-wheeler, snowmobile or bass boat. It may be the year to put yourself second and focus on advancing you children’s knowledge of geography, history, and ecology by making that long, burdensome trip to the Rocky Mountains or Florida Keys. So much can be learned from hunting and fishing trips in remote, historically significant reaches of the globe.

But there are some resolutions that need to be taken very seriously. People with four or five decades behind them are finding that birthdays and New Years are coming around at an accelerated pace and it becomes increasingly important to make the most of every outdoor experience available. The most important elements to enduring another 365 days are health, hope and happiness.

If your mom and dad are still around, make a very special resolve to spend a few days together outdoors, while you still can. Don’t overlook a few special trips with your own children either. A lazy afternoon floating a creek will yield rewards not achievable with any amount of money. It may take a bit of time from your more serious hunting or fishing endeavors, but the future dividends will be well worth the investment.

Ever since Richard Louv’s book “Last Child Outdoors” hit the stores, considerable attention has been focused on how a generation of children has been lost to what he calls “nature-deficit disorder.” You’ve probably heard of it, or worse, experienced it yourself. It’s too bad many of our children seem more interested in video games than outdoor games. Is there really any wonder why so many now suffer from obesity, attention-deficit disorder or poor academic performance?

We should all make a resolution to teach one youngster about the rewarding activities of fishing, hunting, hiking, camping or other outdoor pastimes. For children who have no mentor in their family, this is a small gift that means so much to both participants.

Vow to share more with others. Many people would love to try venison sausage or crappie fillets. It’s not a matter of keeping more fish and game, just sharing a bit of what you have been fortunate to take.

One of the most overlooked resolutions is to offer the utmost respect to the game you pursue and be thankful for the opportunities you have to go afield. A bass that throws the hook in mid-air, a duck that refuses to decoy, a trophy buck that slips away all deserve respect, not wrath. Enjoy the challenge, opportunities and lessons that fish and game provide.

The most important resolution is to live each day to the fullest and to get into our great outdoors as frequently as possible and to help others enjoy it as well.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all a healthy, happy 2016!