As we say adios to the old decade and herald in what many are referring to as the reincarnation of "The Roaring Twenties", I thought it was good to reflect upon this past year and all the great times I have had spending time in the outdoors with family and friends, both old and new.
It might be good for you to take a few moments and give some thought to some of the highlights of your past year in the outdoors and what to look forward to as you ‘age’ as an outdoors enthusiast.
When looking back, it’s not necessarily the game harvested or size of fish caught but the great time with wonderful friends that first come to mind. I’ve said often and believe to be truth that there is no better way to really ‘connect’ with someone than spending time together in the outdoors. Bonds are often made in a matter of days that would have taken years to form in most life situations.
This coming decade will most definitely be a period of transition and change for me as I embark on my seventieth year. For those of you my age or close to it, I probably don’t need to explain what comes with getting older.
If you’re not there yet, listen up, my hope is that one day you will be! We no longer ‘jump’ creeks; we either wade across or find a log to walk over. Long gone are the days when I would even consider dragging a heavy buck or wild hog out of the woods. But along with these limitations comes a great deal of experience learning how to do things ‘the easy way’!
And those late night sets by the campfire telling stories are over as well. These days you will see ole Luke heading to the bunk no later than ten o’clock!
I’ve been blessed with amazingly good health throughout my life but seventy years old marks a milestone for any sportsman/woman.
I can still walk fast enough to keep up with most of my ‘whipper snapper’ younger hunting buddies and have no problem climbing into ladder stands but it stands to reason that these days are numbered. In past years, I have been blessed with a couple of hunting buddies close to 20 years my senior and consider myself well versed in ‘what’s coming’!
I have several good friends that are still active outdoorsmen well into their eighties; they have come to the realization of limitations common to their age and altered the way they hunt and fish but, the good news is that they are still out there after that big buck or ‘mess’ of crappie.
They might not be pulling seventy pound compound bows any longer but they have learned that a well placed arrow from a bow pulling 45 or 50 pounds will get the job done. Several of my older bow hunting friends now shoot crossbows, they have discovered a way to enjoy their time as ‘seasoned’ outdoorsmen by adjusting to their current physical capabilities.
Rather than keep year-round hunting leases, many older friends have opted to book two or three day hunts on hunting ranches or day leases where they are semi guided and taken to and from their stands.
Most of these hunts provide the handling of harvested game in the field. The ‘work’ part of hunting such as making trips to the lease filling feeders, repairing the cabin or camper, etc. are a thing of the past and these ‘veteran’ hunters simply concentrate on having fun and spending time hunting.
Likewise with fishing. Rather than fishing from their own boats, many older fishermen have opted to hire a fishing guide so that they don’t have to worry about the ‘work’ part of a fishing trip.
No more loading and unloading the boat at the ramp or worrying if the motor is tuned properly. Nor do they have to fish several times each week to remain ‘current’ on fishing patterns.
Their guide was likely there on the water the day before and knows where to go to catch fish and what baits to use. The older angler simply jumps in the boat with their favorite fishing guide, enjoys their time on the water catching fish and leaves with a bag of cleaned fish fillets in their cooler.
When it comes to cost of keeping a year-round hunting lease and all the costs of travel, feed, maintenance, etc. and hunting with outfitters a few times per year, it’s a pretty good bet the hunter actually saves money by hunting with an outfitter. Likewise with the fisherman that might go fishing once or twice per month.
Add the cost of purchasing a boat, insurance, fuel for the boat, upkeep plus the cost of the truck to haul the boat to and from the lake, and the money spent for a fishing guide is really a bargain.
Looking at things in this perspective, getting older as a sportsman doesn’t sound like such a bad deal after all. No more dragging heavy critters out of the woods (that was sometimes tough when I was a young man), no more fighting crowds at the boat ramp (your guide will have his boat dockside waiting for you), or cleaning fish and game.
All you will really need to worry about is keeping your shooting skills honed (which is the fun part of hunting) and insuring there is plenty of ice in your cooler to keep your fish fillets fresh for your return trip home after enjoying a morning of catfish fish with your guide rather than looking for them!
So, my next decade in the outdoors might not be so bad after all. I’m in the process of learning the ways of a mature (old) sportsman.
Thank goodness I have had plenty of training serving as the younger ‘whipper snapper’ for several older friends the past 20 years!
Contact Luke via his website catfishradio.org.