We have a new year in front of us and there is a tradition of making resolutions for the new year. Have you ever thought about making New Year’s resolutions for the outdoors?

I was sitting in camp with a couple of hunting buddies and we wandered off on this topic.

Those of you who are conscientious outdoor people will recognize a few of these suggestions, and probably do many of them already. With that in mind, here is a list of potential 2018 outdoor resolutions:

1 – Take some time to check and clean all your firearms. A little preventative maintenance now can preserve the value of your firearm, plus make them more dependable.

2 – Take time to study the regulations. In Nebraska, as in many other states, new hunting and fishing laws often go into effect January 1. Are you up to speed on the laws governing the activities you participate in? Take a few moments to check the “regs” and see if you need to do anything different. A little homework up front sure beats having to pay a fine someday for being ignorant.

3 – Make time to get into the outdoors more often. It doesn’t have to be a big hunting or fishing trip, just a walk along a river or through the timber can rejuvenate your outdoor spirit. Take a camera and capture some memories.

4 – Try something new. Let’s say you typically hunt deer with a rifle. Have you ever considered hunting with a pistol or a shotgun with slugs? Both are very effective methods for hunting deer in close range situations, like most Nebraska river bottom environments. Nebraska allows you to use spears for hunting deer. Think about that hunt for a bit!

5 - Mentor someone or introduce someone new to an outdoor activity. I spend many hours each year helping to introduce people to the outdoors through various outdoor programs. I teach classes in canoeing, kayaking, pistol shooting, survival, wilderness first aid and hiking just to name a few. You don’t have to be a world expert on a subject to introduce someone new to the pastime. Can you fish? Take a kid who doesn’t know how with you on your next trip.

6 – Clean up the outdoors. You should always clean up after yourself, but you can make a big impact by cleaning up after some of the slobs that trash recreational areas. I know an individual who routinely patrols a lake near their home via kayak and picks up trash and fishing tackle that has gotten snagged on trees or off shore vegetation. Besides cleaning up the environment, it is a great way to pick up a few free lures and bobbers to restock your tackle box. With the cost of lures these days, this can be a “profitable” exercise.

7 – Learn to appreciate nature. You don’t necessarily need to be a hunter or angler to enjoy the great outdoors. Bird watching and photography can be excellent outdoor pursuits. I spend hours doing both of these activities every year. I continually learn more about nature and try to capture the truly unique things I find with my camera. Nature is an endless source of inspiration, if you take the time to actually see it.

I remember taking a “newbee” on their first turkey hunt. We spent a lot of time reading sign and exploring the places that turkeys move during a typical day. One of the best moments of the day came when a flock of crows flew towards us, but flared when they saw us. It was the first time this individual was conscious that there was an audible sound that could be associated with wing beats. The look on their face was priceless. You just don’t get to “hear” nature when you live in a city of a half a million people.

2018 is here. Take some time to enjoy it. Have a great and safe year outdoors!

.224 Valkyrie

I had a reader of this column send me an email and ask me about a new rifle cartridge out there in the world. It is called the .224 Valkrie. Federal Ammunition introduced it about a month ago.

The 224 Valkyrie is said to have flat trajectories, match-grade accuracy and supersonic velocities beyond 1,300 yards downrange. Hmmmm…..I’ll believe that when I shoot it!