This is just about the time of year where I start to feel like a caged animal. And I don't even seem to realize it until I actually get out into the mountains for a seemingly rare outing of snowshoeing, fishing, or snowboarding. It hits me all at once as I remember that I need to be outdoors on a regular basis, but it gets tough some times in a place where the winter weather can be downright relentless for over half of the year.
There are, however, a number of ways for me to maintain sanity this time of year, and unsurprisingly, they all relate to hunting and fishing. When the weather warms and the wind calms down every once in a while, taking my bow outside instead of shooting in my living room is a nice option. Being certain that I get outside for some kind of activity whether it be snowshoeing, fishing, snowboarding, or just a run around the block seems to be imperative. All of the being said, the main thing that seems to hold my attention this time of year is daydreaming.
The throes of midwinter are really the only time I can sit down and look over maps of my hunting areas, look at draw odds in various states, read stories about hunts and trips that I dream of going on, and otherwise aimlessly plan for real or hypothetical future hunts without feeling like I'm really putting something off. For that reason, I relish in this time of year.
Now is the time to set goals and plan hunts, whether they are for this season or 5-10 years in the future. Now is the time that I can spend a windblown Saturday looking at maps of my elk unit, or comparing draw odds for my theoretical Nevada deer hunt in two or three years and not feel guilty thinking "I should be out scouting right now" or "I bet fishing is really good today" as I watch it snow sideways across my street.
Seasons change fast, and before we can blink, spring and everything that comes with it will be upon us, and big game seasons will be ramping up all across the west not long after that. It happens quick, and because of that, I have come to savor this time of year that once drove me nuts.
While looking at a computer screen daydreaming about hunting is of course no substitute for the real thing, it is damn sure no waste of time.