There are plenty of hunting challenges for 2014, both personal and industry-wide, but here's a rundown of the big ones to tackle.
As always, January has brought about a furor of resolution-making frenzy. People all over the place are making vows to go to the gym every day or to seek out more satisfying careers for themselves. In the hunting sector, our resolutions are a bit more specialized, but hardly more unique. Whether you've resolved to learn more outdoor safety and first aid medical skills, or simply made a point of hunting in more exotic locales this year, you probably aren't alone.
Don't get me wrong: New Year's resolutions are great. They give people an opportunity to start envisioning where they want to be come the end of December of the year that so recently begun, and such long-ranged plans and goals are admirable.
However, in many cases, New Year's resolutions are just too broad and abstract. Sure, you can say in January that you are going to learn every fishing knot in the book, and you can think that your resolution is going to be completely doable. After all, you've got a whole year ahead of you! How could you fail?
But years can dissipate much more quickly than most people seem to realize, and the more abstract and broad the resolution, the easier it will be for you to push it back, month after month, until you're making the same resolution at next year's New Year's Eve party.
With all of this in mind, we here at Wide Open Spaces want to encourage you to adopt a different kind of goal-setting scheme this year. Don't call it a New Year's resolution; instead, dub it a 2014 challenge, and make it something specific and something quantifiable so that you can easily keep yourself on track and gauge how you are doing.
In the hunting world, there are plenty of challenges that you can adopt this year. Start with a broad goal - something generic like "becoming a better marksman" or "becoming a more successful hunter" - but don't stop there. Rather, dig deeper and set challenges for yourself that can help you get there.
In some cases, that might mean getting fit. Have you ever felt yourself out of breath and exhausted after simply trudging through the woods your climbing up to your treestand? Take that as a sign that you need to get in shape, but don't plan to do it in the way that most New Year's resolvers do.
If you simply say you are going to join a gym, that doesn't really mean anything. You need to outline how you are going to use the gym, or how you are going to stay consistent with your exercise schedule.
Take a book out of a marathon trainer's book and start 2014 by drawing out an exercise calendar for yourself. You can fill that calendar with whatever you want - running, weight-lifting, cycling, push-ups, sit-ups, etc. - just make sure that one, you have yourself doing something exercise-related every day, and two, that your exercise routines are becoming more rigorous as the year moves forward. If you plan out how you are going to get fit ahead of time, you will be much more likely to keep up with your exercise routine all year long.
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Another goal you may have is to make yourself a more effective shooter, either with a rifle or a bow. If that's the case, make a point to shoot every day (if you have a bow and can train in your backyard) or at least a couple times a week (if you have to go to the shooting range).
Whether you establish a quota of bullets or arrows to shoot during the week, or force yourself to make so many bull's eyes in a shooting session, you will be giving yourself the quantifiable means of keeping track of how your marksmanship goal is coming along.