The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions — a promise to do well on acts of self-improvement — has been around for thousands of years in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.
While many individuals vow to eat better, exercise more, stop smoking and build up their finances, it is far easier to make and fulfill New Year’s resolutions for an activity for which you are passionate — such as hunting in Nebraska.
Here are my suggestions for hunting-oriented New Year’s resolutions in 2018.
Mentor someone new to hunting: Taking a first-time hunter to the field is rewarding and can help a seasoned hunter learn new things. Having to break down aspects of the hunt that seem second nature can force the longtime hunter to refocus on the simple things that may have been overlooked or are missing. Longtime hunters should not limit their hunting invitations to just family or friends. Take a co-worker or a neighbor.
Go spring turkey hunting: Nebraska offers some of the best turkey hunting opportunities in the entire country. Turkeys can be found in all 93 counties in an array of habitats. Some even rank within the top 10 counties in the nation for wild turkey abundance. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission gives turkey hunters statewide affordable and plentiful permits, long seasons, good public access and reduced-price youth permits.
Do not forget about including those with disabilities: Some of the things taken for granted by able-bodied hunters are life-changing events for hunters and shooters with disabilities: learning to shoot again, accessing wild places or just witnessing nature. Injured hunters can once again take part in something that was important to them if able-bodied hunters include them on a hunt and seek specialized, adaptive hunting equipment.
Learn a new aspect of hunting: Be encouraged to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new about hunting for 2018. In 2017, for example, I shot my first white-tailed deer buck with a muzzleloading rifle during the muzzleloader season. It is easy to fall into a rut doing the same old thing repeatedly. Link up with experienced hunters, use online research tools and apps, attend hunting workshops and seminars, and perhaps participate in guided hunts.
Thank private landowners: Access to private land is a privilege provided to us through the generosity of landowners. There are many ways hunters can thank them. Hunters may offer a service or assistance with farm or ranch chores. A few dozen ears of sweet corn, fruit basket, box of beefsteaks or a subscription to NEBRASKAland Magazine are friendly gestures that many rural Nebraska landowners like. Remember to include a note of thanks with the gesture of appreciation.
Become a hunter education instructor: Certified volunteer instructors are the key to having effective outdoor education programs and furthering the lifestyle of hunting. Becoming a firearm or bowhunter education instructor is a great way to help save lives, prevent injuries, promote personal responsibility, create an understanding of wildlife management, meet people and positively influence the attitudes of others.
Host a wild game dinner: Prepare healthy and delicious recipes for a variety of the wild game animals and birds that you or others have harvested. Your dinner guests will love the fact that free-ranging wild game meat is low in calories, cholesterol and fat, as well as free of antibiotics, steroids and hormones, and its origin can be sourced.