Winter is a season of ritual for sportsmen.
Felt-lined boots are ready at the door. The odor of ski wax permeates the garage.
The criteria for reliable fishing partners is loosened a bit to include fools who will venture first to test the ice on the lake.
We try to convince more people that ice fishermen really do warm maggots between their lips and gums.
The bird feeder is tended more diligently during the cold months. The dog spends more time by the fire.
We enjoy rummaging in the bottom drawer for our thickest sweaters and thrive on the rhythm and exercise of splitting wood.
We toy with long-forgotten recipes for the venison in the freezer and wear our feet raw at sport shows.
John Husar, of the Chicago Tribune, said he’s anxious to view the pile of new videos he’s accumulated. But he’ll probably procrastinate on the box of reels that absolutely must be cleaned and oiled before spring.
Winter is the perfect time to write thank-you notes to the landowners who let us hunt on their property. A note my father wrote two years ago was taped on the farmer’s refrigerator for a year. The farmer said it was the first he had ever received from a hunter.
Winter seems especially appropriate for revisiting the classics by Aldo Leopold. In the meantime, use up the granola bars you’ve been toting all year in the bottom of your day pack.
Time for action: Winter also is a prime time to get involved. Here are a couple of opportunities.
A few people with an extraordinary interest in Mount Spokane will have the chance to pave - or leave unpaved - the future of Spokane’s most popular mountain.
Washington State Parks is looking for volunteers to serve on the new Mount Spokane State Park Advisory Committee. The position will be time-consuming and controversial as the committee sorts through the demands of various user groups. Expect meetings both public and private for about three years.
But what a way to leave your mark, or possibly prevent new marks, on the mountain.
Members are being sought to represent groups such as skiers, snowmobilers, equestrians, mountain bikers, picnickers, nature enthusiasts, Native Americans, educators, environmentalists, business people and surrounding property owners.
To volunteer or nominate someone for the position, contact Cleve Pinnix, director, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in Olympia, or call Pete Wood at Mount Spokane State Park, 456-4169. The deadline is Sunday.
Bighorn sheep and sage grouse management plans are available from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department for review and comment. Info: (206) 664-0642. The deadline for comments is Feb. 15.
Licensing headaches: Sportsmen who greet the new year by purchasing their 1995 hunting and fishing licenses won’t be able to do it at Brock’s Gunsmithing.
After 14 years, the Spokane business can’t cope with the mounting requirements.
“I finally got tired of it,” said Jim Brock. “It’s become so complicated, the state wants us to send our employees to school on how to fill them out.
“This year they’re making us file three different reports, one for salmon, one for food fish, and another for hunting and freshwater fishing. I don’t have the people to devote to that.
“The new electronic scanners are so sensitive you can’t write out of the little boxes. I’d have to hire an artist.
“We spend 10 or 15 minutes issuing a license to make a lousy buck while customers are getting red standing in line,” Brock fumed.
“I regret not selling licenses because it’s a service I’d like to offer my customers. But it was getting to where I had to make a choice.”
Meanwhile, hunting and fishing licenses continue to be sold at 45 locations in Spokane County, including fishing resorts, sporting goods stores, small hardware stores, small-town gas stations and major chains such as Shopko, Payless, Big Five and Kmart.
Marketing genius: Mary Kay Cosmetics didn’t have a single fishing lure on display, but the booth reportedly was one of the most popular exhibits at the recent Northwest Game Fish Show at the Fairgrounds.