Anderson: Seasonal worries? Redirect those frets by picking up a hobby

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 24, 2014 - 12:27 AM

Take up an outdoors habit, and your new offseason concerns will wipe out winter before you notice the cold.

A friend told me the other day he was depressed about the cold winter. Already he had stoked himself with Vitamin D and even yogurt and nuts, he said, all the trendy stuff.

But the needle on his mood-o-meter hadn’t budged.

Now he was fiddling with the idea of a good intestinal cleansing, an Internet bargain, he thought, at $149.95 paid over six months, interest-free.

“I might even get inked up,” he reported, though he acknowledged “chicks could interpret as a downer” a half-dozen teardrop tattoos emblazoned on his chest, beneath his heart.

“Among your problems,” I said, “is that you don’t hunt or fish. If you did, you’d be too busy worrying or planning to be depressed about something as inconsequential as winter.”

Which was true.

Hunters and anglers can survive long, cold winters and other complications — not because catching a fish or outsmarting a cagey whitetail enhances their outlook sufficiently enough to ward off the rigors of cold days and even colder nights.

Instead, hunters and anglers nowadays must pay such close attention to politics, among other wild cards affecting the rise and fall of wildlife populations, that they have no time for lesser concerns.

“Also, if you hunt or fish, you have to be planning year-round for the next season,” I said.

Consider ducks and pheasants, the hunting of which won’t begin until fall.

Before then, as necessary, a hunter will want to purchase and train a puppy, or finely tune an older dog.

And between now and fall, Congress might pass a farm bill, in the process creating or destroying tens of thousands of acres of upland and wetland habitat in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana and the Dakotas.

“Unless you want to be staring at a freezer devoid of birds next winter, you’ve got to know this stuff,” I said.

Also in the next few months, the Legislature will convene and adjourn, in the process perhaps finally approving a bill that puts teeth in state laws requiring roadsides to be cropped only for hay.

As it is now, thousands of acres of corn are illegally planted each year in these public rights-of-way, enriching farmers but robbing all manner of wildlife, not least ducks and pheasants, of one of the state’s few remaining places they can nest and hide.

Perhaps legislators will even stand up to the state’s ag lobby, I said, and demand that rivers and streams and ditches be buffered with grass and other cover to reduce farmland runoff.

Then again: Not likely.

“And don’t even get me started on the planning required for fishing,” I said.

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