You'd also be pulling out your android phone and checking the countdown app that reports: 250 Days to Pheasant Season! You'd also be playing with the idea of thumbing through the Spring 2011 issue of The Upland Almanac or the March/April/May 2011 issue of Gun Dog Magazine.
But maybe you're not like me, and you'd rather be productive during the off-season. If so, here are a few tips to get you through until November.
- Work on your dog's socialization. In times past, hunting dogs often were one-man dogs. Nowadays, they are just as likely to double as house pets. While we certainly spend ample time preparing our dogs for field work, it is easy to neglect desensitizing them to people, dogs and the things they will come into contact with when we bring them out in public. I like to take my dog to Bass Pro Shops, The Home Depot and any other place where there are lots of people, sights and noises. Asking the occasional stranger to toss a treat to your dog will do wonders for her attitude toward strangers.
- Shoot some sporting clays. How many birds did you miss last season? I have no intention of telling you how many I missed, but I will tell you I intend to miss a lot less next year. Sporting clay ranges are an excellent way to improve your wing shooting during the off-season. They also provide a great venue for making some good memories with your kids. If you're in the Denver area, Rocky Mountain Roosters has an excellent clay range, and their prices are very reasonable. While you're at it, bring your dog along and throw some bumpers for him while people are shooting, just to remind him that guns mean he gets to have some fun.
- Get a fishing license. OK, that one may seem out of place, but let me explain. If you've got to kill time, there may be no better venue for doing it than bobbing on a lake in a canoe with a fishing pole in your hand! Some of the best daydreams ever daydreamed were dreamed on such days. Besides, as the number of pheasants in my freezer diminishes, it's nice to fill the space with something; trout will be fine, thank you very much. Icing on the cake: My dog loves a flopping fish almost as much as a pheasant.
- Start planning and saving for a special hunting trip next season. Nothing keeps a dream alive like planning for it, and stashing some money in the piggy bank during the off-season will help make the dream a reality. My kids and I recently started a tradition in which we have a family hunt the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year we're thinking of going to Kansas or South Dakota. (Yes, I realize my blog is called Colorado Bird Hunting. But just one trip a year to another state won't hurt anything, right?) There's lots to do: researching licenses and locations, digging through harvest records, plotting courses on the map. They say time flies when you're having fun.