It’s winter. The daylight is short. The nights are long and dreary. Air temperatures outside are cold, downright frigid at times. Most likely, there’s some snow cover.
We are all spending more a lot of time indoors this season, aren’t we?
It is that time of year when we get that cooped-up, restless, nothing-to-do feeling that is referred to as “cabin fever.” Stuck inside, too many of us get weary and lethargic and spend long, endless hours watching TV re-runs, binge-watching television programs or playing video games, none of which really help to provide any relief. So, to use your time more creatively and release energy, here are some ideas, 16 to be exact, for reducing cabin fever and curing the “I’m bored,” syndrome.
As you you read through these, keep in mind you can get all kinds of information on winter activities at OutdoorNebraska.gov
Here we go.
1) Just Get Outside! There’s cold weather and snow cover. But, it’s important to bundle up and just get outside! And while we’re out there, let’s have a little fun! Walk in the snow, lay in a snow drift, create some snow angles, make some snow balls or form a snow man or snow creature, even sample a little snow. Feel the brisk wind or the warmth of the sun shining on your face. Let everything you’re experiencing outside absorb into your being!
(2) Cook Wild Game. Dig into your freezer, grab a package or two of wild game you have harvested. Thaw it out. Try a different recipe with it. Visit the popular Food for Hunter’s blog. Maybe make a smoked, wild Canada goose breast meat sandwich with Norwegian cheese and a touch of horseradish as I did the other day. Remember, cooking is a soothing activity!
(3) Play with the Dog. Whether it’s your fenced backyard, a dog park or a leashed walk around the block, you and your canine companion will both appreciate a little exercise and fresh air. It has been said that dogs are winter role models and wouldn’t you agree? They love going outdoors and especially frolicking in the snow!
(4) Check Your Spring Outdoor Gear. The snow and Ross’s geese will be flying very soon. Nebraska’s 2024 archery spring wild turkey hunting season opener is March 25th. Our fishing waters will be ice-free before you know it. Why not examine and organize your gear and get it all ready for your favorite spring outdoor pursuit before it arrives. Do everything from replace batteries in your headlamp to sharpen your knives. Oh, and better sort through your turkey hunting stuff and practice turkey calling, don’t you think?
(5) Watch a Good Outdoors-Related Movie. Think about it. What’s your favorite outdoors-related movie? We all have one. Pop some popcorn (add butter to it, of course), snatch a soda from the frig, sit down and watch that flick with a friends or family members! In my case, it’ll be The Revenant, which is an Academy-award winning, 2015 movie that is based on the life of famous frontiersman Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his early 19th century quest to survive in the American wilderness.
(6) Take a Walk. Bundle up, layer up, put on your stocking cap, grab the warm gloves and head out for a walk in your area. From sidewalks in the neighborhood to a nearby recreational trail, there are plenty of places to go for a stroll, or even a short one at that. You’ll burn some calories, smell the cool, clean, fresh air and get some Vitamin D on that simple walk! Getting your body in constant motion will do more for your well-being than you may come to expect.
(7) Photograph Birds.You don’t need expensive equipment to enjoy photographing birds in your backyard. See how many different bird species are frequenting your yard and capture them on camera for lasting images and to share with others on social media channels. Nearly everyone has a fondness for birds, right? I certainly do! You could also participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count happening from Feb. 16-19.
(8) Ice Fish. Gazing down a hole drilled in thick ice and waiting for a fish to bite your baited hook might not sound like a good time, but for those of us who can’t wait until spring arrives to feel a strike, ice fishing is the solution. The winter sport of ice fishing gives anglers the opportunity to wet a line during the cold weather months while affording adventure and the chance to catch a legal limit firm-fleshed fish from the frig for supper. Link up with someone you know and trust who ice fishes, check the current Nebraska Fishing Guide for regulations and heed ice fishing safety guidelines before venturing out onto the hard water.
(9) Play a Game of Snow Touch Football. Falling in the snow during a contest like snow touch football is no big deal. In fact, it is part of the fun! The snow is there for a cushion. To establish a snow touch football field, simply round up four bright, colorful, old shirts. Set them on the ground to mark the goal lines. Go get the ball, it’s game time!
(10) Call and Hunt Coyotes. There used to be no cure for hunters who suffered “cabin fever” from the end of the late deer season to the beginning of spring turkey season. But now, hunters can enjoy a real challenge and a chance to harvest some beautiful fur throughout the winter months because of coyote calling and hunting. Coyotes are abundant and widespread and present a wary, formidable quarry to draw close. Nebraska residents need no permits or stamps to hunt, trap or harvest coyotes. Nonresidents must have a nonresident hunting permit to pursue and take coyotes.
(11) Go Sledding. An outdoor activity that doesn’t take too much to do and will help rekindle your enjoyment of winter is sledding. Buy or borrow a plastic sled and locate a safe, accessible hill. Sledding is the ideal cure for claustrophobia. Be sure to check out the sledding/tobogganing hill at the Mahoney State Park Activity Center where snow is made and groomed and plastic sleds can even be rented for a few bucks!
(12) Try Cross-Country Skiing. When snow cover blankets the ground, make arrangements to rent cross-country skis and equipment through a local outdoor vendor or business, purchase a current, valid state park permit for your vehicle and then take to one of our many Nebraska park lands/trails. Cross-country skiing not only provides a great physical workout but also a nice opportunity to experience our park lands in winter.
(13) Rent a State Park Cabin. You wouldn’t think that a cabin could cure cabin fever, but it can! Rent a warm Nebraska state park cabin for a couple nights! Weekday discounts and Valentine’s week specials may be available. Play fun board games, curl up in front of the fireplace with a blanket, roast a few marshmallows, make some s’mores, have a cup or two of hot chocolate and watch wildlife out the window. Perhaps you’ll even plan a hike from the cabin if the weather is decent. That state park cabin provides a different indoor atmosphere for you and your family in a natural setting.
(14) Take a Scenic Drive. A wonderful way to experience the beauty of the Nebraska countryside is with a scenic drive on our rural roads, our gravel roads during a balmy, clear winter afternoon when conditions permit. Find out about scenic spots and overlooks near you. Have a park permit on your vehicle and end up at a Nebraska state park, historical park or recreation area to enjoy some snacks and drinks and snap a few pics.
(15) Look for animal tracks in the snow. Finding and identifying animal tracks in fresh snowfall, softer snow cover or even mud can be an interesting winter outdoor activity for anyone curious enough to look. See what critters are traipsing around your area or creek bottom. Observing animal tracks is good way to get the family outdoors, engage kids with nature and learn more about our natural world.
(16) Fish Trout in Open Water or Streams. Believe it or not, there is an open-water fishing option in Nebraska during the coldest part of the winter and involves trout. Fed by ground water springs, many of Nebraska’s trout streams in the north and west, or at least stretches of them, remain relatively ice-free all winter. Other areas of open-water also exist for trout (see the photo below). The rainbow, brook, brown and cutthroat trout in these waters can offer some fun bank or wade fishing action on some of the nicer winter afternoons. Plus, you could work on completing your Trout Slam challenge.