You know what I would like to see out of this new year? I would like to see it last longer. February lasts long enough and so does August. But April and May and October and November are way too quickly gone. Every time I watch one of those wonderful months pass, I realize that as I age, I have a good chance of not seeing another of them come again. At least there will be fewer of those wonderful months than I could once count on.

There are some things I have a hard time keeping up with as I grow older.  It is not as easy as it use to be to clean a deer and skin it.  When I hunt ducks and I get out in the water and hit a spot where my chest waders sink down in the mud over my ankles, it is much harder to get out.  For the first time, I fear my obituary will say that I was found dead from hypothermia, stuck in the mud somewhere.  It is harder to sit for hours in a tree-stand, and when a turkey gobbler is off gobbling like a fool a hundred yards away and won't come closer… I have to fight the overwhelming urge to try to sneak up on him.  

All this is the result of too darn many good years gone past, and I see no sign of anything slowing down but me. Twenty years ago I jokingly referred to myself as a ‘grizzled old veteran outdoorsman’.  Now I really am one!! But I ain't as mad at ducks and pheasants anymore, nor deer.  Now I can go home at the end of the day without cussing when I don't get anything, simply because I saw a real pretty kingfisher light on my boat blind or a chirping osprey doing stunts in the air above me, or because I found an arrowhead.  

I can live with the fact that I sat in my boat last week watching green-wing teal whiz over my decoys at a hundred and forty-five miles an hour without really being that upset because I brought my shotgun without remembering the shells.  I never really watch ducks over decoys that well when I am shooting at them.

I forgot to change the spark plugs on my boat motor, forgot to fix the trailer lights, forgot to pick up a bag of dog food for old Bolt, the world's third or fourth greatest Labrador.  I forgot my boots the other day, remembered them only after I was two miles into the woods and had to wade through a mud puddle in my camouflaged low-top ‘around-the-yard’ shoes.   I intend… this next year… to get myself back into the same kind of fish-catching, duck-shooting, dog-training, tree-stand sitting, boat-paddling expert I was back thirty years ago. But I think I intended that very same thing last year about this time. I can’t remember for sure.

I would also like to do a better job of producing a top-notch pair of magazines, the Lightnin' Ridge Outdoor Journal and the Journal of the Ozarks which we put out for readers of this newspaper column. But I need to step back and rethink how to do that.  For that reason, I am asking you readers to be patient as I skip winter issues and make new plans for 2016.  To do that I have asked for help, and got it.  I have some new magazine partners who know what they are doing.Thank Goodness.  

These magazines started small but now they are growing out of my magazine-producing ability.  In fact as an outdoor writer I never really had any magazine-producing ability, I just was just flying by the seat of my pants. So here is what I am planning; all the material used in each magazine will be my decision; articles, art and photos will only be what I have selected. But my partners will take care of the rest, stuff called layout and design and a bunch of other stuff they know about and I do not.  I really like these people and respect their ability, so I think it is time to put out more publications per year rather than the four seasonal magazines I have been doing recently.

Our last magazines were called Fall Editions, 2015. The next ones will be February-March, 2016 and then next April-May.  If we can pull this off there will be no more seasonal editions.  So if you are a subscriber to one or both, be patient.  I haven't quit, I am way too young to retire (and too financially inconvenienced because of all the ammo and fishing gear I have to buy).  

Besides that, I like doing these magazines, writing these newspaper columns, doing public speaking and trying to get some more books finished. It's just that I can't let all that get in the way of hunting and fishing and exploring and taking pictures and floating down the river.  If I do I won't have anything to write about.  

Our big ‘Grizzled Old Outdoorsman Swap Meet Event’ will once again be held at the gymnasium of the Brighton Missouri Assembly of God Church which is located five or six miles south of Bolivar and about 15 miles or so north of Springfield on Highway 13. This year we will have the biggest event ever, with about fifty tables of outdoor stuff of all kinds. As usual, it will be all day, the last Saturday of March, and I am going to put up much of my private art collection, probably 20 or more pieces of beautiful paintings which anyone would love to have in their den or living room. These are signed and numbered wildlife paintings by nationally known artists.

I am going to do this to help finance the retreat we have made for underprivileged children near Collins, Mo, out in the middle of nowhere. To pay for everything, (electricity, insurance and taxes) we need to raise about 4000 dollars per year. About a dozen readers have donated nearly 2,000 dollars already and we will have open books on whoever donates money and how it is spent.

At the Swap Meet we will set up a room where items from the old home will be displayed and offered to visitors without any prices. You can take whatever you want there for any donation you’d like to leave in a bucket. Someone might find an antique dish worth a hundred dollars for only a quarter donated! In my February-March issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal you can read all about that place and see photos of the first bunch of youngsters who came in December, fatherless boys from a Baptist Church in Springfield who spent a weekend there.

I have finally settled on a name for this place where I hope we can actually change the lives of some kids without fathers, or underprivileged kids. Panther Creek and Brush Creek flow together there. I like the sound of ‘Panther’, better than ‘Brush’, so it will be called, “Panther Creek Wilderness Adventure Retreat.” We will make a big sign to sit out in front, but I do not want to mention ‘fatherless’ or ‘underprivileged’ children, even though that is what the place is for. When they get there, I want them to feel they are special. I’ll say a great deal more about this place in our magazine and tell you about the neighbor and his lawyer who are trying to put an end to this dream. I hope you will find a copy and read it.

 

Write to me at at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, or email lightninridge@windstream.net See this weeks photos and swap meet information on my website, www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com