Finley River winter

The Finley River flows through Ozark on Jan. 3, 2020.

Welcome to 2020. I hope it is a “New Year” in many ways. 

I hope it’s a year that politicians realize that they work for us the taxpayer and not for their own gain. I hope this year the national news media discovers that a lot of us are now turning them off or not reading what they write. I hope it’s a year when gun control advocates realize that violent TV shows, movies and video games are a big part of the problem.

I hope this is the year you figure out that kids spell love T-I-M-E, and you spend it with them wisely. I hope it’s a year you take your spouse’s hand and go walking on a moonlit night. I hope it’s a year that finds you spending less time at the office and more time with your family.

I hope this is the year you discover that sunrises and sunsets, the sounds of crickets and the smell of campfire smoke is better than any TV show. I hope it’s a year you learn to tie a fly, paddle a canoe, pitch a tent, skip a rock, shoot a bow or catch a fish.

May your New Year be filled with all that makes you happy!

Get ready for next year

As soon as possible, after all the deer seasons are over, get out and start getting ready for next year. Main deer trails stand out like road maps in the winter woods, and secondary trails are also very visible, as are rubs and leftover scrapes from this season. You can identify cover types, travel corridors, terrain, water sources and feeding patterns.                           

Being different

Don’t be afraid to try lures that aren’t supposed to work under certain conditions (i.e. a buzz bait in the middle of a cold front). That different look can be enough to coax a few more fish into striking. Every time you present a lure that looks different, you give yourself a chance to catch fish that wouldn’t respond to other baits you’ve fished. Sometimes, being different is all it takes.

Did you know?

Did you know the average lifespan of a squirrel is nine years? That is unless they are eating my bird seed, damaging my bird feeders, digging up my yard by burying acorns or by trying to find one they already buried.

Did you know squirrels are also good to eat? When I was growing up on our farm south of Nixa, we ate a lot of fried squirrels with biscuits and gravy.

Start getting ready

Winter is a great time to get ready for future backpacking trips. Walk every day or use a treadmill, stair-stepper or use the stairs. When it gets closer to the time for your backpacking trip, add a loaded pack to your routine to help add more strength to your legs and so your back and shoulder muscles get adjusted to the load.

As ice drips from your roof and snow blankets the ground, just close your eyes and think of a gurgling stream, the magic of a crackling fire, and a million stars in the sky and all that preparation will be worth it.  

Something to think about

“Be at war with your vices; at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

—Benjamin Franklin

Larry Whiteley was born and raised in Nixa. He was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in honor of his over 40 years of communicating the great outdoors all over the world through his outdoor articles and radio shows.

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