Indoor hobbies keep outdoorsmen busy during long winters

17 years ago

Here we are halfway through January and many Aroostook lakes still have questionable ice thickness for safe fishing. Every day recently, however, has aided the cause and soon tip ups will be able to be set up on all the favorite winter waterways.
On the other hand, there’s still a lot of cold and stormy weather to be endured and there’s only so much ice drilling, hare hunting and varmint gunning that a sportsman can stand. That’s where indoor winter hobbies come into play.
Numerous Crown of Maine outdoorsmen use winter evenings to support their warm weather pastimes by tying flies, reloading shells or building some sort of new fishing rod. This is also the perfect time to fix up older flies that have been beaten up and need to be steam cleaned or have a new coat of head cement. Perhaps a favorite rod should have a guide rewound or the windings need a coat of varnish. Perfect job for the off season.
Sportsmen with a fetish for woodworking often turn to more in-depth projects such as constructing hand-made trout nets, canoe paddles or even building their own wood strip canoes. All of these endeavors take patience, skill and plenty of time, but the self satisfaction is immense. A few guys with a bit of gunsmithing training use the snow season to refinish the wood or bluing on favorite firearms, or perhaps do a bit of intricate work on a particular gun’s action.
A few years ago I got into the hobby of collecting and trading federal and state duck stamps. It’s kind of like having a miniature art collection and it’s fun to see how the designs and prices have changed since federal stamps were issued in 1934. My state stamp collecting is confined to Maine issues only, but some enthusiasts get into duck stamps from all of the U.S. states. Since many states have stamps for fishing, upland birds, and even big and small game, it’s possible to really extend the realm of stamp collecting.
Some shooters are into collecting shells and cartridges for all shotgun, rifle and pistol gauges and calibers, especially antique or discontinued versions. An extension of this includes collecting old ammo boxes, sporting goods signs advertising guns and ammo and even old outdoor magazines and catalogs. Besides the excitement of buying, selling and trading, sometimes a bit of money can be made if a rare piece is located at a yard or garage sale.
Waterfowlers often spend their winter nights carving and creating decoys for field use or more elaborate models for decorative display. Over the last 30 years, collecting, trading and selling duck, goose and even some fish carvings has become big business as the work of some older, often deceased wood workers can bring thousands of dollars at auction.
Anglers have their own collectors club with early edition lures, plugs, bass baits and reels each having a dedicated following. Antique, hand-made bamboo fishing rods are another much sought commodity among collectors, and it’s amazing how many are stored and forgotten in attics and closets right here in Aroostook.
If none of these collecting pastimes or outdoor oriented hobbies strike your fancy, spend some extra time reading books and magazines related to your favorite cast and blast endeavors. It’s also a great time of year to catch up on all the TV shows you missed on the outdoor channels or enjoy a few DVDs about woods and water adventures. When all else fails, some of the current hunting and fishing video games for the computer are a blast for all ages.
Sitting and staring out the window just won’t make the winter pass any faster, get outside and enjoy it the best you can some of the time and spend your inside hours engaged in pastimes that are fun and beneficial.  It’s never to late in life to learn a new hobby.