BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS — Still plenty to do while waiting out virus

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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As I type this article, the world is in mass hysteria over the Coronavirus pandemic. Officials are meeting, updates are being made around the clock, and yet no one really knows what exactly is going to happen. One of the options being discussed is a type of quarantine that would keep us on “lock down” in our homes for possibly two weeks. While this is not my choice and not an ideal situation, “it is what it is,” as the old saying goes. If this comes to pass, I wanted to share a few ideas that will help pass the time and might even prove beneficial for the avid outdoorsman.

1. Repair and organize old duck decoys — Every year I think about fixing leaks, changing weights, cleaning and even painting old decoys. I have an old shed where the decoys are tossed around, and I envision taking the time to have everything nice and in order. It never happens. If I find myself forced to stay home, I might have to get to that project after all.

2. Practice archery skills — For many years I wait until June or July to begin practicing with my bow and arrow. This year could be different. I am fortunate to have 10 acres to practice on, but even if you are limited in space you can still work on shooting form. All that is necessary is a good archery target and at least 30 feet of space to shoot in. You can practice having a smooth draw, a solid anchor point, steady aim, and a consistent release. All of the practice could help you bag the trophy of a lifetime once all of this chaos passes.

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3. Train your dog — For many of you, time at home means time with your dog. Use this time to strengthen your dogs skills. Everything hinges on obedience. Practice the basic heel, sit, and stay commands. Make sure your dog is totally proficient on and off of lead. Train around distractions to insure that your dog is 100% reliable. If space permits, work on single and multiple retrieves as well. Even in a small area, you can concentrate on a good delivery and making sure your dog doesn’t go until being sent. All of this practice will no only grow the bond with your dog, it will also pay huge dividends in the duck blind.

5. Get in better shape — You can use this time to kick start the new you. As I visit the grocery stores, I notice that the healthy stuff is still on the shelves! Use this time to learn to cook at home and develop healthy recipes. If you have exercise equipment, now is the time to dust it of, stop using it as a clothes hanger and put it to good use! Even without equipment, push ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks are a good way to get the heart pumping and increase strength. Take it from a guy who was way out of shape on an elk hunt — being fit is a game changer for many types of hunting.

5. Study tips and techniques — You can use this time to brush up on the latest hunting and fishing strategies. Between the Internet, YouTube, and all of your old hunting and fishing magazines, there is plenty of information at your fingertips. Use some of this extra time to watch how-to videos that you will be able to put in practice in the near future. Read those old magazines and learn from the experiences of others.

6. Spend time with your family — Unfortunately, as outdoorsmen, we often get so caught up in all that is going on around us that we forget about the people around us. We often neglect our families. Use this time to reconnect with your wife and children. Play a board game, tell stories, talk or watch movies together. Involve the whole family in home projects. The opportunities are limitless.

7. Remember that God is still in control! — The coronavirus did not catch God off guard. He is still in control. Take some time to start a morning time of prayer and Bible reading. Realize that Jesus loves you and is able to take care of you. Tell Him how thankful you are for the blessings that He has given you. Remember that If you are still breathing, you still have a purpose. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble but take heart. I have overcome the world!”

As I read over my own article looking for errors, it has dawned on me that maybe a time of slowing down and looking at what really matters could be a blessing rather than curse. I need to remember that, as I said above, God is in control, and when life gives me lemons I will make lemonade!

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of and outdoors writer for The News.