This is an excerpt from an article that ran in the February 2015 issue of California Sportsman Magazine.
If you are like me, I often wonder what is ahead immediately after deer season ends. It doesn't take long for me to imagine all the possibilities that are just waiting to be unearthed. I think back on the previous year and what I did right, did wrong, need to improve on, and what fun I can have in the coming new year. I jot down each idea that pops into my head as it is time to plan out some hunting and fishing adventures!
At the top of my list is planning outdoor adventures with my daughter, whether it is simply taking a hike or choosing some new fishing spots. While I may be the guide, I also get her to share her ideas. Listening to her brings forth new ideas and also gets her excited to do fun things in nature. One of the things I most look forward to is going camping and fishing with her. Right now, she is asking to go hiking more and why not? It's a great time to shed a few pounds, get some leg work in, and bring out the binoculars to scout along the way. Plus, although my wife isn’t a hunter, she loves to hike and is pretty darn good at spotting deer! It’s great seeing the outdoors through their eyes.
Now is a great time to start looking for new public hunting ground. It is also a great time to introduce some new hunters to the proper way to find public land to hunt and to help them learn to scout properly. I talked with a couple of new bow hunters last year and the most common question was, "Where to I start?" You would be surprised at how many people haven’t hiked the foothills or mountains. More than that, many have never shot an arrow. It doesn’t always have to be about hunting. Get them involved in archery and many will find a new hobby they will enjoy for a lifetime. Now is a great time to introduce new people to archery or the outdoors! I have a few readers who have reached out to me asking for some guidance. Instead of just telling them, I am going to invite them to come out with me to do some scouting.
Practice using your cameras more often and in different ways. So many outdoorsmen are photographing and videoing their adventures nowadays that you have to think and work creatively to do something different. Now that the pressure is off, take some time to photograph a hunting partner or a family member in different ways that might be reflective during the season. Think about the light, position of the animal or fish, the position of the person, lighting of the face and eyes, and the background. All of these things need careful consideration. If you plan ahead, you just might land that cover shot of CA Sportsman! I have been shooting photos for twenty years and I still practice! I have to as I need to stay sharp. When I don’t practice, my photos suffer. If you plan on videoing your excursions, again plan ahead. The purpose of shooting a video is to tell a story, so do just that. Write out an intro and exit that can be used over and over. Then, begin writing out and considering smaller tidbits that add to the storyline. If you are a coffee drinker, shoot the coffee maker as it is brewing or you pouring it into a mug. Now, this may or may not be used, but if you have it you will be ahead of the game. You can always reshoot it. Plan a mini-trip and video it. Figure out who is the main focus and who is going to video it. Guidelines need to be set and adhered to in order for it to be successful. Now comes the editing part, which is often the toughest piece of the puzzle. Sit down and play around with different features on short clips. Working on longer ones in the off season can be overwhelming and drag you down long before the season ever starts.
Off season really isn’t the right way to say it. It’s more like a ‘do plenty of other things outdoor related’ season. One of my goals is to learn how to saltwater fish. I grew up learning to fish freshwater lakes and streams. As a SoCal resident and having plenty of access to the ocean, I want to learn how to go after bigger fish. My knowledge base will be from my friends who have done it for years. No matter what you choose to do, you should embrace the time to learn and improve your skills in many different ways. As humans we like variety and challenging yourself in different ways will make you increase your knowledge and hopefully a better outdoorsman.