New Year’s resolutions are a good thing, so long as no one actually holds you to them.
I’ve got a bunch. Some have perennial spots on my list. For instance, since I graduated from high school, I’ve been planning to finally lose the 10 pounds I gained in the last decade.
For those of you counting, that’s now well more than 10 pounds. This added girth around my waistline remains remarkably stable, but I try.
Some resolutions are foolish. More than once I’ve welcomed in the year by promising to finally master the art of ice fishing. With the right gear, knowledge and a couple dozen hand warmers strategically secured under my clothing, I can see how this might be a fun activity. But it’s one for a different breed of human than myself.
Enjoy your mousies with their wriggly snorkels — which allow these drone fly larvae to breathe while living in fetid mounds of manure. That wriggler also makes them irresistible to fish that make poor life decisions.
They’re all yours. I’m going to stick to televised sports during the hard-water season. I’m not judging. I’m just staying indoors until the water is again fluid.
I hope to revive my soft-water fishing game in the coming year, however. Last summer it began inauspiciously and slid downhill. I snuck off to the Big Hole in June, thinking I still might catch the tail end of the salmonfly hatch. What I caught instead was a river fast approaching hoot owl lockdowns due to low flows and warm water.
Then the fires started.
I don’t know about you, but hazy skies that smell like a barbecue joint you ought to avoid don’t necessarily inspire visions of pristine streams and rising trout. Instead, it makes me think of inedible brisket with a bitter, acrid bark.
Soft-water fishing is increasingly seasoned with this smell of ignition smoke. Still, there remain places where you can exercise trout in a safe, non-lethal manner, no matter how smoky, and that might be the best distraction from the smell of bad barbecue on the wind.
I also resolve to move my older bird dog, Doll, into semi-retirement next fall. She has soldiered on heroically this season, often outshining my younger pup, Jade, especially when the bird finding requires slow, methodical work rather than fresh, acreage-absorbing legs.
Last week the girls bumped a covey of quail that settled into some thick, waist-high bluestem. Picking those tight-holding birds out of the heavy grass required a nose, and the patience to use it. Doll did just that, pointing bird after bird.
Jade, on the other hand, would check in to the grass briefly, then run off in search of another covey. She’ll learn.
Doll needs regular days off now. Four or five hours in the field sometimes leaves her so gimpy she can hardly walk the next day.
A new familial addition has made staying home a little easier, which brings me to my final resolution: no more jokes about cat people.
I’ve had cats much of my life, mind you, but it has been years since one lived with me. Then last month, as I walked to my car, a black kitten ran across the busy four-lane I was crossing, narrowly avoiding being smushed. I gathered up the abandoned kitten with the intention of finding it a good home. That good home turned out to be “my” home when my setters adopted their new pet.
Leaving Doll at home when Jade and I are out hunting is now a little easier since she has a pal to hang with. Doll still doesn’t like it, but she tolerates it better with someone else around. My magical cat, Laney, seems the perfect solution.
Now if she could only be trained to retrieve.
Rob Breeding’s website is www.mthookandbullet.com.
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