Pandemic-Positive: 6 Great Things Hunters Can Do Now
As millions of people hole up in their houses amid the pandemic-driven shutdowns, a whole set of new challenges has hit home: layoffs, school closures, kids underfoot, and cabin fever. In between teleworking, job searching, tending to kids, and seeking safe ways to stock the fridge, it’s tempting to stay glued to the television and social media. And doing so can cause you to get mentally stuck – boredom and worry lead to frustration and squirrely attitudes.
While we hunters and outdoorsmen are mired in the same struggles, we have natural outlets – things we can do most any day. We also have constructive ways to emit healthy attitudes and outcomes for both ourselves and others. Our outdoor mentality and zest for adventure make this a rare opportunity to use social isolation to our advantage. Consider it as a gift.
More than 150 years ago, sportsman and writer John Muir said, “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
Muir understood the opportunity we have before us now. Here are five ways that we, as hunters and outdoorsmen, can make the best of this challenging situation:
Prepare and Share Wild Game Food
Concern over anticipated food shortages amid the pandemic has driven people to grocery stores in droves. Within mere hours, shelves were picked over and continue to be. The result has been a lack of availability of most basic food staples.
Enter wild game. There is something positive that the hunting community can do for those around them. If ever there was a place for “venison diplomacy,” it’s now. While social distancing may require that you don’t handle other people’s food, we nonetheless have a perfect opportunity. Grab some packages of venison out of the freezer and leave them on a neighbor’s doorstep. For those unfamiliar with preparing it, share some tips with them. A few pounds of healthy free-range meat will go a long way for those waiting for shelves to be re-stocked. You never know – you may change the mind of someone skeptical about the merits of hunting, all while supporting them in a time of need.
Secondly, prepare wild game for your family. Talk about a golden opportunity to try out new wild game recipes or fall back on old faithful ones.
Shoot or Teach Someone to Shoot
We recommend that you follow CDC-recommended guidelines for social distancing and sheltering in place. Still, if you have easily-accessible outdoor space, this is a great time to teach someone in your household how to safely handle and shoot a rifle, shotgun, pistol, or bow. Here, you get the benefit of blowing off steam and the gratification of bringing another person into the hunting and shooting fold.
Hunt or Teach Someone to Hunt
Again, if you have access to hunting property and are able to follow CDC guidelines, take this time to include a non-hunter or beginner to hunt. This time of year, you can hunt turkeys, hogs, squirrels, even antler sheds – all while easily keeping a safe distance. There are so many hunting-related tasks that can be done alone or with a partner or two; scouting for next deer season, hanging trail cameras, working on stands, and establishing food plots. Heck, just take a young son or daughter on a stroll through the woods of your hunting lease or local public land. Talk about some good outlets.
If alone, embrace the shelter-in-place laws by climbing in your favorite tree stand or ground blind. At a minimum, you can take this time to view nature and wildlife instead of your television or smartphone.
Support Outdoor Industry Businesses
During these trying times, take time to support the businesses of the outdoor industry – particularly the small ones. Hunting and outdoor product companies offer the gear we need to participate in the sporting activities we cherish. And just like other businesses, they’re taking it on the chin during this unexpected time.
What a perfect time to complete your research on that bow or gun you’ve contemplated buying. Stock up on gear or gift cards for yourself or future gift-giving. Set up hunts with outfitters for next year or for when travel can resume. You get the picture. The Outdoor Industry Association reports that 75 percent of their members are classified as “small businesses,” having less than $10 million per year in revenue and fewer than 700 employees. Smaller outdoor companies are particularly vulnerable, so help them stem the tide.
Leverage Media Channels to Learn
Instead of using television, radio, and the internet to keep up with the latest quarantine schedule, bad economic news, and political in-fighting, utilize it to learn something new. Sure, current events are important, but too much of it can compromise your mental health and attitude. Take this chance to learn a new outdoor skill or concept, or at least get a head start by educating yourself. Tap into hunting and outdoor channels on television, YouTube, podcasts, and blogs. There is a wealth of information out there. Learn how to secure an out-of-state hunt, have better archery form, reload your own ammunition, properly sharpen a knife. The list is endless.
Channel Your Inner Entrepreneur
I know you’re out there. Hunters and outdoorsmen that have a couple of outdoor product ideas they’ve never followed through on. I know it because I’m one of them and know others. Tackling an invention or other entrepreneurial project is tough, considering work and family obligations. Though these things continue, you may find yourself with more time on your hands during the day. Put your ideas into action. From the next revolutionary hunting blind to the next great hunting blog or podcast you’ve always wanted to start, outdoorsmen like to do outdoor-related things. Get excited about it and make some headway.
Our communities are no doubt better when its members are inspired and motivated, rather than anxious and bewildered. The same goes for the outdoor community. Participating in and supporting the outdoors can’t fix the pandemic or its impacts, but it can provide respite on several fronts. Try some of these solutions out. And take time to thank God for the blessings you do have during this time. Remember, you’re not stuck at home, your safe at home. However, if you apply reason and caution, you don’t have to stay home.
So, wash your hands thoroughly and often, wipe down your equipment and get after it. It’ll do you good. Plus your family, friends, and outdoor community need you.
Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His articles cover a variety of topics about hunting and the outdoor lifestyle. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. He was introduced to hunting and fishing at an early age and has been enjoying it for 40+ years. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of over 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.