The new year offers a time for reflection, resolutions, and a celebration of the fresh start that the changing calendar provides. While most people choose self-improvement resolutions, such as getting more exercise or learning new skills, why not add a few resolutions themed around your favorite hobbies?
If you love hunting, fishing, or enjoying the Great Outdoors, consider these five outdoorsy and patriotic resolutions for the new year.
Keep Your Gear Organized and Maintained
Before heading out for another hunting trip or fishing session, make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to set aside some time to check your gear. Proper maintenance helps you save money by keeping your existing equipment in working condition for longer.
Spend an afternoon inspecting all your equipment and checking for signs of wear and tear. To ensure your equipment is in proper working order before the next hunting and fishing season, ensure you:
- Inspect, clean, and function-check all hunting weapons: guns, bows, crossbows
- Organize your ammunition by type and caliber
- Clean and maintain your fishing rods and accessories: reels, lures, and lines
- Replace any worn-out consumable, part, or accessory: firearm magazines, bowstrings, arrowheads, fishing lines, and lures
Don’t neglect proper cleaning and maintenance of your clothing and wearables. If you hunt deer, keep your hunting clothes clean using scent-free detergent, and always dry them thoroughly before placing them in storage. This measure minimizes your scent footprint and ensures the deer can’t detect you.
Share Your Passion with a Novice
One of the best ways of ensuring the continuity of your favorite hobbies is to share your passion with novices.
Do you have children, friends, or family members who show interest in hunting, fishing, and shooting but don’t know where to start? Make it a New Year’s resolution to show a newbie the ropes and teach them what “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” truly means to you.
If you know someone who would like to learn rifle hunting but has never touched a firearm before, invite them to the shooting range to teach them the basics of safety and marksmanship. If you prefer to hunt with a bow or a crossbow, visit an archery range instead; many of the essentials of gun safety also apply to archery weapons.
Afterward, encourage them to take a hunter’s education course. If they are ready to go by the next deer hunting season, you can invite them to the field for an introduction to the hunting world.
As an experienced angler, your role is to be a guide, show them the basics, and ensure they at least understand your passion if they don’t become fishing fans themselves.
If your preferred form of fishing is fly fishing, teach them to match lures to the water’s color, show them how to select the correct lure profile for the fish they want to catch, and demonstrate the best techniques to cast a line.
Don’t forget to show them how to make one or two simple knots, such as the clinch knot or the double overhand. Knots are essential for tying hooks, lures, and tackles to fishing lines.
Always Follow Local Laws and Regulations
Check your local and state laws regarding the legality of bringing non-hunters or non-anglers with you. Most states prohibit unlicensed individuals from accompanying licensed individuals while hunting or fishing, while others may allow it under specific conditions.
A typical example is the state of New York. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS-DEC), children and unlicensed adults may accompany licensed hunters, but they may not “take part in any aspect of the hunt,” which includes handling firearms, using calls, or driving.
Become a Public Land Advocate
Multiple government organizations manage public land in the United States. The top five are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Agriculture Forest Service (FS).
The federal government owns about 640 million acres of land that hunters and anglers can use for their favorite activities. This number does not include land owned or managed by local and state organizations, which may provide additional hunting and fishing opportunities.
While hunting and fishing on public land are a quintessential part of American culture, many plots are in danger of privatization. Hunting or fishing on private land is generally illegal without explicit permission from the landowner or manager, as it constitutes trespassing.
By making it a resolution to become a public land advocate, you can turn your passion into a patriotic duty and preserve public access to hundreds of millions of acres for future generations.
How to Advocate for Public Lands
If you’re interested in doing your part to protect and preserve public land, follow these best advocacy practices to make your voice heard.
- Learn about the risks and challenges to public land access in your area, such as plans to sell or develop the land. A major historical example is the proposed State National Forest Act of 2015, which proposed selling two million acres of public land to the timber industry, restricting access for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Inform fellow hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts of threats to public land access.
- Donate to land conservation charities or directly to your local Bureau of Land Management state office.
- Contact your local elected officials with a handwritten letter, a personally written email, or a phone call.
Practice, Practice, Practice
While the skills required to be a proficient hunter differ significantly from those of a skilled angler, both require consistent, regular practice.
Hunting and fishing season dates vary depending on your activity, geographic location, and weapon or tool of choice. For example, the traditional season for rifle deer hunters in most of the United States ranges from September to January, meaning February to August is the off-season.
Even if you can’t hunt or fish during the off-season, you can use this time to practice your fundamentals and train in handling your rifle, shotgun, bow, crossbow, or fly fishing rod.
Practice in the most realistic conditions possible to improve your chances of success. If you enjoy bowhunting, leave the archery range, invest in 3D targets (three-dimensional foam replicas of your game animal), and practice hitting the vitals at various distances and in multiple positions.
For anglers, practice fly casting techniques in your backyard or a safe outdoor area. Whether you prefer the classic roll cast or the more challenging bow-and-arrow cast in the style of Joe Humphreys, spend some of the off-season practicing your favorite techniques, so you are ready for the next fishing trip.
Keep American Nature Clean: Leave No Trace
While fighting to preserve access to public lands is critical, ensuring they are as safe and clean as possible is equally essential.
The best way to do so is to adopt the seven Leave No Trace (LNT) principles, which aim to teach hunters, anglers, and other outdoors enthusiasts to teach the impact of their activities on natural lands and encourage responsible behavior.
Below are the seven LNT principles and an explanation of each:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Learn and follow all hunting and fishing regulations, get licensing and education, familiarize yourself with your gear, and always ask for permission if you plan to enter or cross private land.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Drive on the road and camp at designated sites and trails. Do not alter a natural site to create a new campsite; use existing ones instead.
- Dispose of waste properly: Everything you pack in must be packed out, including trash, spent casings and shotshells, or leftover food. Avoid leaving gut piles in frequently-traveled areas as they may attract predators like bears or coyotes.
- Leave what you find: Don’t pick up, damage, or destroy rocks, signs, branches, or grass. Bring prefabricated blinds instead of making them out of local vegetation, and avoid building structures or digging trenches.
- Minimize campfire impact: Respect campfire signage, keep your campfires under control where allowed, and only use wood and kindling that has already fallen on the ground. Never leave a campfire unattended. Before you leave, put the fire out completely and scatter the ashes once cool.
- Respect wildlife: If you aren’t hunting, leave wildlife alone and observe from a distance. Do not feed or follow animals, and do not let pets approach them.
- Respect other visitors: Be courteous, yield to others on the same trail, and avoid producing loud or unpleasant noises. Step to the downhill side if you meet pack animals on the trail.
Show Your Love for Patriotic Activities and Traditions with Freedom Fatigues
Hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts all share the same appreciation for the American outdoors. Display your pride for America and its quintessential American activities with Freedom Fatigues.
Browse our selection of men’s and women’s apparel and accessories to wear while hunting, fishing, hiking on the trail, at the campsite, or while relaxing at home.