Thu04242014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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What is on your list for this year in Virginia’s Outdoors?

Each year on the last day of the year I take time to reflect on how the year went, what I did well and what I wish I had done better. In all that deep thought, usually done from a spot next to a tree awaiting a deer, I think about what I missed out on fishing or hunting around the state and then I end up making a list of things I really want to try to do during the upcoming year.

We never have enough time and most of us these days are trying hard to make ends meet and balance that time with family and then friends. While everyone has a different perspective on what they will do each year in the outdoors I figured it might be interesting to see someone else’s list of desires for the outdoors this year.

First on my list was spend more time with my kids. Kids are with us a short amount of time and then they are gone to lead their own lives. That window is short and I intend to take full advantage of it this year. Some of my best memories ever are of the times my father included me in his excursions to the river or in the woods. My kids tell stories all the time about previous times we went fishing or hunting. I don’t often recall the details like they do but it feels great to know they found it memorable.

Second on my list is to try to introduce someone to hunting or fishing this year. I would encourage readers to do the same. A young person would certainly love the attention and the chance to get outdoors and learn something new that is healthy for them. There are a lot of kids who are bored, and sadly, there are a lot of kids without a father in their life. Step up and step into their life to take them to the outdoors.

Our outdoor club for the youth in the county is hoping to do some things along this line this year. With a little help we can get it done. Each person that hunts or fishes can easily take a few days out of the year and take some kids or even adults fishing or hunting. We have the rest of January and February to rabbit and squirrel hunt.

Then we have spring gobbler season in April and May and then June squirrel season. Fishing will start in earnest in April and roll right into fall. Invite someone outdoors and take them to a good spot where they will see something or catch something with relative ease this year. I make you one promise: The smile on their face if you do this correctly will be well worth every minute of your time taking them afield or on the water.

One thing that totally amazes me all the time is the number of men that don’t take their girlfriends or wives or even their daughters fishing or hunting. The number of girls and women taking up fishing and hunting is reportedly growing but we can do more.

I  run into women all the time that comment how they would like to go hunt or fish with their significant other. Guys, even if your lady friend does not shoot a gun you can take them out.

Keep in mind they may not have the knowledge you do to hunt, stalk and remain still but the women, once shown how it is done, are quite good at hunting. I have three in my house and they pull their weight no problem. Make it enjoyable and when the conditions are terrible, pack it in and head home.

The goal is to have them enjoy going outdoors with you and come back for more. I really enjoy hunting with my wife and daughters. My youngest daughter loves to duck hunt. My wife likes deer and squirrel hunting and my oldest daughter likes rabbit and turkey hunting. They all like to fish. I never have to worry about being home at a certain time because the family is with me! Imagine not having your girlfriend or wife mad because you fished or hunted too long!

Some of the types of fishing I am determined to partake of more this year include the June and July striper bite at Lake Anna. CC McCotter and Chris Craft are the “go to” guides at Anna and they both know how to put clients on fish. The spring crappie bite at Anna is dynamite with some of the very best crappie fishing going on over there last year on record. Consider tapping into that resource.

The red drum fishing the last two years has been phenomenal in the bay and lower rivers. I hope to get with a friend or two and get out to get some of these tasty juvenile reds or even a big bull redfish for a photo and release. Charter captains in the bay can set you up easily. I always use Captain Ryan Rogers as he is professional and delivers the best he can with the conditions.

I have got to get out to arrow some more snakeheads this spring and summer. If you have never tried eating snakehead you are seriously missing out. The fish are incredibly fine tasting despite their ugly looks and demeanor. All of our tidal creeks off the Potomac and many of those downstream of Port Royal on the Rapp now have snakeheads in numbers.

I really want to find a place to field hunt for geese this year. My daughter has a lab she wants to train and eventually breed and we love to eat goose. If you are like me, you enjoy hunting but often don’t make the time to find a place to hunt until summer. Now might be the time to start asking.
Whatever your miss or regret last year, you can change that this year with a little planning. Get your list out and think about what you wish you had done last year. Make it happen. Seriously consider taking someone with you this year too!

Mark Fike

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