We’ve all seen the gas prices rising and if you’re like me (not a millionaire quite yet), gas prices have started to eat into your budget here and I’ve had to adapt. I can feel it every time I go to the pump.

I stood there watching the numbers – those impossibly large numbers – add up on the little screen in front of me. I’d been standing there a while, and I began to get desperate, wondering if there was something wrong, perhaps a hole in the tank.  And still the numbers kept rising. Sixty. Seventy. Eighty. Eighty? Are you kidding me?

And as the pump approached the ninety-dollar mark I realized that my beloved old truck, the one with more miles on it than the Starship Enterprise, the one that had taken me on so many hunting and fishing adventures and (more importantly) back again, the one that perpetually smelled of wet dog and cheesy poofs, the one that averaged – on a good day with a downhill tailwind – about fourteen miles to the gallon, was going to be spending a lot of time this fall parked in the driveway, replaced by my wife’s old Subaru.

The reality of four, five or even (as some predict) six-dollar gasoline isn’t going to make most of us stop hunting, but it is going to force us to get creative in how we go about doing it. Downsizing vehicles or perhaps making fewer trips of longer duration, giving up something else (who needs a new iPad, right?) in order to continue to afford hunting, carpooling on trips to split gas and expenses, camping out instead of motels, cook-fires rather than restaurants; all these things can extend the hunting dollar, and, it can even be argued, enhance the total experience.

I’m somewhat lucky in that I live fairly close to decent bird hunting in two states and I happened to inherit a pretty darn good compact all-wheel-drive hunting wagon when my wife got a newer car. I can fit two medium dog crates (goodbye aluminum dog box) and enough gear for a few days’ trip in the back, and it gets decent mileage.

But even at that, my modest income dictates that if I’m going to hunt as much as I want to this fall, I’m going to need to adapt. For example, although much of the time I prefer to hunt alone, I’m seeking out a partner this year to split gas costs, especially on longer trips. And no motel rooms or eating out. I’ll instead dirt bag it in a tent on public hunting camping areas and nosh on my own tailgate lunches and campfire meals.

And you know what? The more I think about it, the more I realize that doesn’t sound like sacrifice to me, it sounds like… fun. I certainly won’t try to claim there’s any kind of silver lining to sky-high gas prices, but with the right attitude and a little creativity it’s certainly not the end of the bird-hunting world.

How are you planning to cope with gas prices this fall?

 

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