Outdoors

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are appropriately reserved for fun stuff and not serious business

It’s time to roll out my outdoor New Year’s resolutions for 2020. By the way, if you’re a regular reader you may notice that I have repeated myself on an item or two. A resolution is a contract made with one’s self, so you are both the promisor and promisee. If life changes and you can’t get to all of them, that’s OK. You can reuse them next year.

New Year’s resolutions are appropriately reserved for fun stuff and not serious business. You don’t make a resolution to change your diet after your doctor tells you your life is riding on it. You just do it. But that goal to finally hunt sea ducks in Alaska? That’s perfect for a resolution.

Here goes: my plans for 2020.

Master farm pond bass. I suppose the key to mastery here is gaining access in the first place, as I don’t live on a farm. Once on the water, my plan of attack will be two-pronged: surface poppers in the still of the morning, followed by plastics on a medium-light spinning rod as the day wears on.

Fly fish for carp. I still haven’t managed to target inland bonefish. This has become a transgressive distraction for fly fishing guides bored with trout. The trick is to carefully pole yourself out in front of schools of carp, then drop small nymphs in front of the feeding fish. Long disparaged by American anglers, carp are apparently pretty worthy fighters, especially on a fly rod.

So when the bass aren’t biting on the farm pond … carp!

Puppy time. It’s been just Doll and me for the last six years. I’ve been planning to add to the pack for almost as long, but the situation was never quite right. Now with Doll a mature, though still healthy, 9-year-old, it’s really time. Another setter will join the pack this year.

Perfect my elk sandwich recipe. Arby’s has moved on, but I haven’t. The fast food chain replaced its limited-time, fall venison sandwich with duck in 2019. The last time I had the venison rendition, two years ago in Billings, it was dismal. The meat was gamey and tough, while barbecue sauce added cloying sweetness and little else.

I’ve played with some improvements, but my access to elk meat is limited and commercial replacements are expensive. I’ve decided to invest in some cheaper cuts of beef to fine tune my technique, then finalize the recipe on pricy New Zealand venison.

Two versions are in the works. Porter braised venison with Asian spices, and grilled venison, after a long period of tenderization in the sous vide. Huckleberry syrup will add character to my barbecue sauce.

Grade papers in small batches. If you’re asking what this has to do with the outdoors, here’s what. For those not blessed with independent wealth or an instinct for lotto numbers, work is a necessity for realizing your outdoor dreams. How else do you pay for new fly rods, ammo and the like? The goal is a satisfying job that pays decently, but isn’t so demanding you can never get away when you hear the call of the wild.

Teaching is the perfect job for an outdoorsy type. When school is in session the work can pile up, however, and that is my weakness. I spy a stack of papers that needs grading, and, realizing I don’t have time to make it to the bottom, resist the impulse to start. Eventually, the stack grows too large to ignore and I have to sacrifice a perfectly good weekend in the middle of hunting season turning those papers into feedback and grades.

Five at a time is my new motto. Knock them out in small batches, so the stack never grows to weekend-killing proportions.

Then get out and have some fun.

Rob Breeding is the editor of www.mthookandbullet.com.