The Longtail: Getting your sh*t together in 2023.
Now that January is over, how are those resolutions coming? Did you make it through dry-January? How’s the gym?
Maybe those haven’t gone so well, but, did you know that one of the top resolutions every year is to spend more time with a skill or hobby? Perhaps you didn’t get off to a great start, but if you added ‘Be a better bird hunter’ to your list, you’re in luck. If you didn’t, we suggest you add it now.
First things first, while it may be a new year if you’re in our home state of North Carolina, or other southern states quail season is likely still open for wild birds, and clubs are rocking and rolling for another month or two. Look at that schedule and find a day, make it happen and get outside. After all, we make time for what’s most important, and time’s wasting.
That said, while we gobble up the remaining days afield, let’s shift focus for a moment to fall 2023 and steer you along the path toward your best season yet. Here are three core areas to help get your sh*t together for next season.
Can you really call yourself a Sporting Gent if you don’t take advantage of all the outdoors has to offer? The health benefits start at the fresh air and end with less of a waist than you have now, plus more birds in the bag come fall. (See Get In Shape next)
Look, it’s not that hard. Start going for walks, take the dog. Go explore that game land, wildlife management area, or piece of the back 40 you’ve been meaning to check out. Stop with the excuses.
Also, while you’re there, add in a training session or two with the pup. We’ve all had the experience hunting with the guy blowing his whistle and hollering his head off to no end while his dog rips birds. No one wants to be that guy. You definitely don’t. Put in the work now and your buddies will be offering toasts to your great partnership around the tailgate.
Lastly, go shoot. How bad does missing that chip shot still haunt you? Be honest. Now is the time to take action and fix it. Trap, skeet, sporting clays, all three will make you a better shot. And, it’s a shot of fresh air and gun smoke. Add some bourbon after your round is over and you won’t find a better cocktail.
Get in shape
This applies to you, and your dog. No one enjoys hunting with the guy who can’t keep up with their spot in the line chasing pheasants and folks would rather be swinging on coveys than waiting for you to catch up to the point. Similarly, you want to enjoy the day afield with your canine companion and wouldn’t intentionally put them in harm's way. But, how many times does September first dove opener roll around with a too deep fur covered imprint on the couch cushion? Too often. Heat stroke in dogs is no joke.
You both will be happier and healthier for it. And, your time afield will be that much more enjoyable. If nothing else, there will be a bit less guilt at snagging a pre-hunt Little Debbie.
Dial in your gear
You might think this is our place for shameless plugs, and if you did, you’d be right. But also, you wouldn’t be reading this if you were happy with your gear. Remember that time the briars shredded your legs? What about that time it poured mid-hunt and you got stuck with your buddy’s spare ‘rain jacket’ that lost its waterproofing back in college?
Let’s not do that again. The TSG Havenfield Shell Jacket is where it’s at. Bulletproof, weather-resistant, and at home in the field, duck blind, or on your way to the office - the Holy Trinity for inclement weather.
First things first, take care of your dog because he can’t take care of himself. You want him seen and returned to you if the worst happens and you lose connection. The TSG Field Collar is the key here. It’s durable, water resistant, and cleans with a wet rag. As low maintenance as it gets. Orange or pink for fieldwork and get the nameplate filled out. Want a pro-tip? Don’t put the dog's name on the collar, he can’t read it and whoever finds him can get the name from you when they call to tell you he’s found. Go with ‘Needs Meds’ or ‘Reward’ and your number. K.I.S.S.
Emergencies taken care of, let’s cover the day to day.
For pants that wear like iron and aren’t so stiff they stand up on their own two legs without you in them you’ll want the TSG Twill Field-Pocket Pant. Valentine’s day is coming. Wear them, she’ll thank you. And you can pick them up off the floor in the morning to take the dog for that walk without a second thought.
And lastly, for your top half you’ll want the TSG Tanner Bamboo Button Down. Don’t take our word for it, take this review offered on our site instead, ‘durable enough for comfort, actionable enough for leisure.’
If that’s not a motto for 2023, we don’t know what is.
Mike Neiduski - TSG Dispatch Contributor
Mike Neiduski grew up a deer hunter on a small family farm in New England. College, a move to the midwest, and a bird dog puppy opened his eyes to public lands, conservation, and so much more. He and his dogs are equally at home chasing bobwhites, woodcock, and the elusive Appalachian ruffed grouse here in North Carolina as they are pursuing prairie grouse and pheasants in the Heartland. When not training dogs, fly fishing, or running cast iron in the kitchen, you can find him writing about the same, and working as a major gift officer to fund conservation.