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New Year Hunting Resolutions

January 20, 2012
By Ralph Scherder, Hunting Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

As I'm writing this there remains only two days in 2011, and tomorrow morning I leave for a mountain lion hunt in Colorado. I'll be ringing in the New Year in a hunting lodge in the wilderness, and hopefully celebrating killing a big tom.

Wow, I can't believe I just said that!

Every hunter has that one thing that lights their fire. Monster whitetails, rutting moose, bugling elk, spot and stalk sheep, or perhaps an African safari. For me, it's mountain lions. Nothing gets my blood going like the thought of taking a 150-pound cat, so I guess it's fitting that I kick off 2012 by pursuing a lifelong dream.

All of this began when I was a kid, of course. I'd read books about bounty hunters who'd chased livestock-killing mountain lions throughout the west and knew that someday I'd have to hunt lions, too. And so on New Year's Day 2011, I made it my resolution that I'd work hard, pinch my pennies, and make that dream a reality. Hopefully the weather and the wildlife will cooperate and next month I'll have a good mountain lion story to share here.

In regards to hunting, what are your New Year resolutions for 2012? Don't have any? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Locate and hunt for one particular buck. Spend time getting to know the behavior and patterns of that individual deer. It doesn't even have to be the biggest deer in the woods. It's amazing how much you can learn in the process. Spending a season targeting one or two specific bucks will help you become a better overall deer hunter in the future.

2. Hunt another state. Every state offers its own challenge. For instance, hunting in the mountains of Pennsylvania or West Virginia is a whole different ballgame than the agricultural areas of the Midwest. Hunting new territory forces you to see things fresh and learn new tricks that can be applied to hunting familiar country.

3. Try hunting with a new weapon. I began bowhunting when I was 15, but the day I picked up a muzzleloader completely changed by life. I became a kid all over again, excited about the possibilities of doing something new. Now, I still enjoy bowhunting in Pennsylvania all fall, but it's the late season, January muzzleloader hunt in Ohio that stirs up the butterflies in my stomach.

4. Hunt a new species. Nowadays, whitetails are king of the outdoor industry, but there are still many other great hunting opportunities available. Predator hunting has been gaining steam the past few years, and for good reason. It's a blast. This year I harvested a buck in Pennsylvania fairly early in the season with my crossbow and didn't really know what to do with all my free time afterwards. So I dusted off the electronic game caller, charged up my Nite Lite, and had many great experiences calling in raccoons and fox all fall. Predator hunting was something I hadn't done in several years because I'd gotten so involved in deer hunting, and it didn't take long before I realized how much I'd missed it. I'm planning to do even more predator hunting in 2012.

5. Start planning and saving for your dream hunt. There's a reason that "life is short" is such a clich because it's true. And life slips by so fast. If you don't start planning your dream hunt now, when will you? I have a good friend who often takes out a loan to go hunting, then as soon as the loan is paid off he takes out another loan and goes hunting again. I'm not saying you have to go into debt to go hunting. If my friend were more disciplined he could simply put money into a savings account every month and then draw from it once he accumulated enough cash to pay for a hunt. Which is what I did in the case of this mountain lion hunt. It amazed me how fast I reached my goal and was able to book the hunt. One reason, I think, is that having a goal helped me to stay more focused and work harder to attain it.

In that end, I think that's what resolutions are really about setting goals and then challenging yourself to achieve those goals. Many people make resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, or any number of things. This year, challenge yourself to become a better hunter and enjoy the abundant opportunities found in the great outdoors.



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