Make this upcoming year the year you get lost.
Not the kind of situation requiring GPS or an emergency rescue, but the sort that involves immersing yourself in all that outdoor pursuits have to offer.
It’s an exercise in fishing, whether it’s prowling the back shallows of skinny water bay systems along the coast in search of tailing redfish or targeting the shallows of your nearest fresh water impoundment hoping that a big sow largemouth isn’t far away.
It’s also an exercise in hunting, including a spring season that will ruin you for any other excursion should you find a willing gobbler obliging of your turkey talk or a big whitetail buck that comes charging in at the slightest hint of a ruckus caused from your rattling horns.
Our state has no equal in regards to what I like to classify as “quantity of quality” moments, those that have no value simply because they can’t be manufactured or manipulated.
These are magic moments.
They’re the kind that form a bond between outdoorsmen and women that tie us to the locations and way of life we love. It’s in these landscapes that a mind can wander to other previous places that have meant so much and left an imprint on the psyche that can never be erased.
Getting lost always has been easy for me.
A Hill Country hideaway of thick cedars dotted with winding rocky paths tucked quietly from human interaction produced my first whitetail buck a number of seasons back. Not far away, the same terrain brought a wealth of fine arrowheads and other tool points fashioned long ago by a people who also knew a few things about living off the land.
A Panhandle oak motte rising out of the sandy red surface near the Oklahoma border brought forth my first turkey on a rainy spring morning lined with fog. The entire experience of turkey hunting in April and May is a quest unlike any other, with sights, sounds and smells of a variety of critters and vegetation that you simply won’t find in abundance for the rest of the year.
As with enjoyable hunting trips, successful fishing trips don’t rest solely or even heavily on filling a limit.
Kayak trips in particular have their way of bringing things to light that have nothing to do with catching fish.
An early morning outing involving some of the most accessible bay fishing between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas led to a close encounter with a pod of porpoises so close that they sprayed with me with a fine mist when they came up for air and did their poignant arc back into the depths.
Another paddle-powered cruise not far away did bring lots of fish – reds to be exact – but the angling soon gave way to simply gazing upon a school of wide-backed specimens with iridescent blue tails that flickered atop the surface as they rooted around in thin sea grass for an easy meal.
Getting lost also is easy in public places, specifically state parks. Camping and hiking are among the easiest ways to drink in all that nature has to offer, and this year your efforts could be part of a bigger picture.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department faces a predicament with decreased state park funding that likely won’t be aided with an influx of dollars during the upcoming legislative session. In that regard, taking part in the magic moments of the outdoors and providing even meager support may help – even in some small way – to allow others to have the same opportunity down the line.
The average New Year’s resolution typically focuses on a singular aspect of our lives that may not ever come to fruition or really bring lasting change in an area in which we’re looking to become better. I would challenge you instead to resolve to take the time out and really get lost in the outdoors, no matter what the pursuit or circumstances may be.
Sometimes it’s the best way to truly find yourself, and discover what’s really important.