When that brightly lit ball slowly traveled down 77 feet from high above Times Square in New York City at 11:59 p.m. Monday, welcoming in the New Year, many of us were making a number of resolutions. I am sure we all had good intentions of keeping them. However, as I have experienced personally, many of them seem to be forgotten before long. But nonetheless, I would like to share a few of those that we, as outdoorsmen and women, should consider for 2013.
Do not let the only shots you take in 2013 be while hunting; visit the range before the hunt with your rifle and/or shotgun. Right now, it is upland game and waterfowl season in different areas of our state, and you should have already been to the sportsman club and broken a few clay pigeons with your rabbit/bird guns. Then, sometime in April, spend a morning or afternoon patterning your turkey gun so you will be ready and on target when that big puffed-up gobbler struts into your decoy.
Come September, big game hunters should be bench-shooting their deer rifles/shotguns in preparation for the Northern/Southern Zone big-game seasons. And this year, I suggest you do not leave the range until you are able to put three rounds in a two-inch square at 100 yards. If you do all of this before the hunt, you will definitely walk into the woods with confidence in yourself and in your firearm. And should you miss, you will know it isn’t the gun’s fault.
Gun cleaning is something many of us neglect, and this year, I have made a resolution to clean and oil every gun I have in my gun locker. Doing this should always be at least an annual routine, and it can be done while watching TV. Just don’t forget to put down some type of heavy cloth first, or your spouse might end up cleaning you up.
There are several bowhunter resolutions that should be followed, also. Many of us — and I am one — put our bow away in December, and it sits in a case for nine or 10 months. Then when it is time to hunt, those bow-drawing muscles we developed have weakened. Make a resolution to get out there and shoot at least once a month; or better yet, there are a number of sportsman clubs with indoor shooting facilities open year-round. And come the good weather in April, keep shooting but move outside to the 3D ranges. This will keep you in shape and get you used to the realistic varied distances and shooting angles that the 3D targets offer. This could eliminate some of those missed high and/or too-low shots we have all experienced.
If you would like to do a little competitive and fun bow-shooting, the Bowhunter Plus in Amsterdam has a winter 10-week indoor league that is beginning this Monday. There is also a one-week makeup, or you can come in anytime during the week to shoot your score (www.bowhunterplus.com).
When the clock struck 12, bringing in the New Year, it also ended the right to hunt big game with a crossbow in New York. In addition, it eliminates a permit requirement for hunters with physical disabilities to use special archery equipment during any big- or small-game hunting season. However, those with physical disabilities will have to apply again for a “modified archer permit,” but new laws/regulations will be required for hunting with a crossbow.
So my resolution here is that we continue to help lobby for a “fair” crossbow hunting season: That is, one that allows crossbow use during any hunting season, big or small game, and definitely including the regular bowhunting season. I think that it is time that all deer hunters should have an equal opportunity to be in the deer woods — the gun hunters with the gun hunters and the bowhunters with the bowhunters, which should include the crossbow hunters.
I would like to see DEC, through its DECALS licensing system, add a “yes/no for crossbow during the bowhunting season” question for all applicants applying for a license to answer. It is really the only definite way to reveal what the majority of New York hunters believe. For more information, and the truth about crossbows, go to www.-nycrossbowcoalition.com, where you will see that a continuing online survey reveals that 90 percent vote “yes” for crossbows. Let’s all do our parts to get the crossbow back in the New York woods, and this time during all the hunting seasons.
There are a number of precautions that the hunter and the fisherman should force themselves to do every time they go afield or afloat. If you are one of those tree stand hunters who doesn’t have or doesn’t always wear a safety harness, then buy one and wear it every time you hunt off the ground. And don’t buy a cheap one; this is your life you are talking about, so get a good harness. Unfortunately, there were several deaths this year from hunters falling out of tree stands that could have been eliminated if they were wearing good safety harnesses.
As for the boating anglers and those of you who ice fish, wear a zipped-up personal flotation device on the ice and whenever that gas engine boat motor is running.
This is one of my favorites, take a kid fishing. I don’t care if it is your kid or someone else’s. In fact, even if you have one of your own, take one of his or her friends, also. When you introduce a youngster to fishing, you are not only bonding with them, but also exposing and teaching them something they can enjoy for life. When they become adults, they, too, can pass it on to their kids.
And why not make it a family sport? Don’t forget grandpa and grandma — we like fishing, too. No need to wait for the spring. Give them a little taste of ice fishing.
Happy New Year.