Time and your Checklist

I recently had surgery that put me out of commission for over a week. I am still healing up, which involves a bunch of pain meds, some antibiotics, an anti-inflammation liquid that tastes a little like a Sweet Tart and anti-freeze, and, because the surgery involved my tonsils, a deviated septum, and other fun stuff in the back of my throat, eating has become a chore. In between checking my “medication chart” (I created one in Excel to keep track of timing and doses because I lost track by day 2) I try to entertain myself with a game called “what can I eat today.”
My fantastic wife, Nikki, has been instrumental in keeping me stocked up on Ramen noodles, instant mashed potatoes, jello, yogurt, and assorted smoothie ingredients. She is very good at asking me “what are you going to eat today?” which translates into “you have had a glass of apple juice, eat some real food.” It is a far cry from a nice, big rib-eye or pizza, pasta or sushi, but it will work. Those who know me know my keen interest in great food and drinks–why eat and drink boring stuff? There is an upside to this limited chow: I am down about 8 pounds, which I needed to lose anyway. It will make me lighter on my feet come fall…

So, with this extra time on my hands, I actually got a few things done around the house, and around the garage (a.k.a the gear room.) The first few days were not conducive to much, as the pain meds made me groggy and tired, and the lack of food due to eating pain kept me lethargic. But, the last 2 days have been decent. So, to stave off cabin fever, I overhauled gear, something I think a lot of us do because of lack of time, we forget or put it off until later–like when we flick on our headlamp in the dark tent, only to realize the batteries are almost dead…

So, here is my down and dirty top gear overhauls we all need to do in the next month. Just give yourself a specific timeline; it will make you start it and get the damn things done. Now, stop messing around. Get to it:

1. Replace all batteries in headlamps, GPS, avalanche transceivers, digital cameras and video cameras. Tip: for many devices, especially those you don’t use frequently, keep the new batteries WITH the device, but not in them (avy beacons come to mind) until you are going to use them.
2. Sharpen all knives in your hunting pack and kitchen. Remember how to do it with a stone, so you get it literally shaving sharp? Well, then learn how. Don’t be lazy and put your best knife through some $9.99 infomercial sharpener. Do it right. And when you whip out that chef’s knife and produce razor-thin slices of onion, you will smile proudly that you did it.
3. Wax and waterproof your boots. Replace the laces while you are at it. And, those insoles could use a looking at; how many miles are on them? That’s right, not enough. Go hiking.
4. Restock your first aid kit, if needed, or at least get rid of the old band-aid wrappers, the sticky half roll of Life Savers that somehow got in there, or the now un-sterile package of burn ointment that got punctured when you sat on it.
5. Review and re-orient yourself with key topographic maps of your hunting areas. Yeah, I know, you have been there 100 times, there is nothing more to look at. But, sometimes just the act of reviewing maps gets you thinking about a new drainage, some new spring you might look at on the edge of the map, a good-looking saddle, etc. At the very least, it gets  you dreaming. Maps are great for that.
6. Shoot your bow or gun. Practice. No, really–practice, at least a few shots a night (bow) or make the time to get to the range. It’s fun, and makes opening day feel like you are ready.
7. This one is your own. Put in here that thing that YOU need to do. It might be training more, or finally getting that sub-two pound tent, or helping a landowner with some fencing in return for access to chase big whitetails; you name it. The trick is, make the time. These things don’t take an eternity, and please, don’t wait for some sucky, painful surgery to be your “excuse” to do them. I would rather be eating a big burger and a cold beer right now, trying to figure out how I am going to make time to shoot my bow, sharpen my knives and pore over topo maps, getting ready for the fall. Trust me.

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