New Year’s Day is a time for college football, food and friends, as the holiday season begins to wind down. This time of year always seems to add a few pounds, with all the great food and desserts that are so easy to reach at a timeout or during a television commercial. Consequently, those New Year’s resolutions made usually include some kind of exercise program for the coming year.
There are a couple of popular mid-winter hunts that are going on right now that can give a person plenty of exercise to help shed those unwanted holiday pounds. A shotgunners’ delight can be a Gambel’s quail hunt in any of the lower elevation terrain south of Payson or in the Tonto Basin area near Roosevelt Lake.
The temperatures are cool and comfortable, which allows a dog to chase birds longer; and of course hunters do not have to be concerned about rattlesnakes at this time of year. The quail are a bit wilder, so a few of those hard-to-reach canyons and draws should be the destination for those who want to bring a few birds home. It’s amazing how many miles a person can walk in an afternoon quail hunt.
A little exploring can certainly pay off if you can find a water source that is off the beaten path. A stock tank or spring with plenty of cover can provide the perfect situation for a couple of healthy coveys of birds. A 30-minute walk to a secluded canyon is worth it, if there are quail in the area.
If upland bird hunting is not your cup of tea, how about an archery deer hunt in the local area? Units 22 and 23 have a month-long season during January, which includes terrain from the pine forests to the warmer, desert lowlands. No special drawing is needed, just an over-the-counter deer tag which can be purchased in the sporting goods department at Walmart.
The rut is in full swing, so it is possible to see deer all day long — the does are usually being chased closely by an amorous buck. It is possible to spot and stalk deer at this time of year because a buck may let his guard down just a bit while in pursuit of a doe. The challenge of the hunt is still very difficult, with so many variables being brought into play to get that perfect archery shot.
If a stalk is blown, then go back to glassing the next group of deer and try again. Every pursuit will add additional walking exercise, and the excitement of closing the gap to 40 yards or less is a challenge. There is a real adrenaline rush when everything comes together and that perfect shot is made. This is no easy task, and it may take several seasons before successfully tagging a January buck.
Get that hunting license renewed and head for the hills for quail or deer, which will not only give you plenty of exercise, but also a chance to bag a few tasty birds or tag a 2010 buck.
This weekend, enjoy the Rim Country, God’s creation.