Vow to Improve Your Duck and Goose Hunting Next Season
I'm not really big on resolutions, figuring that forward thinking and maximum effort 365 days per year trumps any surge of resolve that accompanies a fresh calendar. But hey, it's a new year, and in the spirit of the moment, let's offer up some worthy waterfowling goals and high hunting hopes for 2019.
Yeah, it's easy to say you'll get after ducks or geese more often next year, but life sometimes gets in the way. Instead, maybe we should vow to plan better and make more effort to get afield more frequently. Examine issues that kept you at home or in the office this season, and try to resolve those. If possible, structure your workload so you're not swamped when opening day arrives. Get your yard work done earlier. Get up early, and sneak in a few hunts before work. Adding even one more trip will be worthwhile.
Again, this hope rings hollow if you're cramped for time or endure unforeseen circumstances. But if possible, resolve to practice and prepare more efficiently. Don't wait till August to pick up your calls. Clean and rig decoys well before the opening bell. And please, shoot often and regularly. Oh, and don't forget to train your dog.
Make the Most of Your Failures
Every waterfowler struggles through tough hunts or epic fails now and then. The key is to identify why those efforts went south and then work to correct errors or avoid bad situations in the future. Was your opening-day spot crowded? Find a new area. Did late-season geese shy away from your best spread? Critique and improve your concealment. You get the idea.
Break Your Mold
An old cliché questions whether you're in a groove or a rut. If you're not consistently filling straps, you might be trapped in the latter. Pore through your records of unsuccessful hunts to see if patterns emerge. You might start to wonder why you constantly hunt spot No. 1 during west winds when you typically experience ho-hum results. Then, resolve to do something different. Seek fresh spots. Try wildly different approaches. Don't simply accept mediocrity when some innovation might lead to success.
Take a Newcomer
This, of course, is the most important resolution. Introduce someone to waterfowling next season, whether that's a relative, the neighbor's kid or an interested nonhunting adult. We waterfowlers have done a horrible job of replacing ourselves, and our numbers show it. And as our numbers decrease, so does our influence on attitudes and policies that will shape hunting and conservation long into the future. Replace yourself. Create a new waterfowl hunter. Do something to ensure the long-term survival of the activity that has blessed you with so much.