9 Ways of Social Distancing Outdoors
Well, things are pretty nuts in the world today. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what you’re seeing on the news with all the uncertainty and fear associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the economy. But despite all that, there are some real opportunities before us too. Most of us suddenly have much more time with family, which is a huge blessing. But you can also try social distancing outdoors.
Tips for Social Distancing Outdoors
Under most shelter-in-place orders, you can still be outdoors provided you are at least 6 feet away from anyone that’s not your immediate family. That’s preferable when you’re outside anyway, and it leaves plenty of opportunities for you!
Getting out for a regular walk helps regulate stress. And these are definitely stressful times. If you have a park or forested area nearby, try getting out for a short hike each day. Bring a backpack along with some weights inside to also help get some exercise and train you for next hunting season. To challenge your cardiovascular system, try running or climbing hills. If you can continue these practices over the summer (fingers crossed), you will be in much better shape by next fall.
2. Shed Hunting
While you’re out hiking, you can also be shed hunting. Looking for shed antlers is a fun and challenging activity that you can do with your whole family. You can learn about deer behavior and how to scout for deer too, which are both critical. Besides the exercise and mental engagement, shed antlers are fascinating things to collect. Think about it – you are the first person to pick something up that was once living. It’s pretty thrilling.
3. Turkey Hunting
Some spring turkey seasons are already open, and others are coming soon. Turkey hunting is generally a solitary exercise, so it’s a great way to try social distancing outdoors. Plus, it’s really addicting to play cat and mouse with a wild bird as you try to call it into range. For that matter, you can practice your turkey calls at home while you’re sheltering in place too. And if you’re lucky enough to get a turkey, you can look forward to some delicious wild game meat.
Very soon, the growing season will be back, which means you have the opportunity to forage for all kinds of wild edibles. You do need to be careful about this, as there are some inherent dangers. Before consuming anything, you need to be 100% confident in your identification, so spend some time indoors now studying the common plants and lookalikes to avoid. Some good ones for novice foragers include morel mushrooms, nettles, berries, etc.
5. Dog Training
If you’re a dog-owner, you don’t really have a choice on social distancing outdoors: you need give your dog exercise. Honestly, dogs can be a good excuse to get outside when you don’t necessarily want to. Take this time to train your dog, whether for shed hunting, bird hunting, or just general obedience training.
If anything can calm me down, it’s a good backyard fire. Listening to that crackle, smelling the wood smoke, and feeling the glow of the flame all do wonders for me. Maybe you’re the same. As long as there are no burning restrictions in place, you’d be amazed how much a fire will help. Plus, if you have lots of dead branches on the ground that accumulated over the winter, this is a good way to clean everything up.
7. Garden Preparation
In Minnesota, it’s definitely still too early for any real garden preparation. Then again, we have very optimistic tulips popping up already, so maybe we’re closer than it feels. This would be a good time to plan your vegetable garden, build a new compost box, or fix any fencing to keep rabbits out.
8. Maple Syrup
If you’ve never made syrup from the sap of trees before, you don’t truly appreciate the work involved. That being said, the result is worth the effort. If you have sugar maples in your yard or on your property, they have the highest concentration of sugar in the sap. But I’ve used silver maples and boxelder trees before with good (albeit different) syrup results. Some people even tap birch or walnut trees. But the tapping season is drawing to a close soon across most of the country, so hurry up.
9. Habitat Management
We’re lucky enough to own some hunting land that I actively manage each year. I was out last weekend pruning apple trees and cutting some wildlife openings in some overgrown brushy areas. There’s always some kind of management to catch up on, and this is a nice time of year to do it because the temps are cooler and the bugs aren’t out yet.
Make Social Distancing Fun
Try your best to not get discouraged during these trying times. Yes, there are some bad events happening and it’s easy to feel isolated from others. Make time to recharge outdoors and remind yourself of all the great things we can experience through this lifestyle.
I sincerely hope you all are staying healthy and well. We will get through this.