ONE YEAR ENDS, another begins. Thus, the march into the future begins to tells us the continuing story of life while the pages of history are filled with what we have left behind.

Beginning at the beginning, where all good and true volumes of history begin, January and February of 2018 brought mixed results for my outdoors goings-on. We had snow, we didn’t have snow. We had good skiing and we had bad skiing.

Looking at it from the perspective of someone who has groomed cross-country ski trails for 37 years, it was tough sledding. As if good snowfalls alternating with heavy thaws that ruined good grooming weren’t bad enough, two major breakdowns of an ancient groomer meant most of my work was done with an even more ancient 1986 Ski-Doo Alpine. No fun, especially on below zero days and nights.

When March blew in with lots of good snow, I was not there to groom it. Falling on ice, I discovered, is never good and in my case, an early March fall on ice at work resulted in three broken ribs and no more grooming or skiing.

Worse yet, that fall wiped out any April turkey hunting I was going to do. The best I could do and what I did do is spend several mornings driving around back roads in my neck of the woods just to listen to and hopefully see a gobbler or two.

You know what? That turned out to be as much fun as actually hunting them. On my back roads tours, I would stop here and there, walk in a ways on a logging road or some other path, call, listen and just plain enjoy being in the woods, even if I couldn’t carry a gun.

As I knew they would, the woods took me in, let me gather a few treasures like listening to toms gobble at my calls, like feeling the warmth of a late-April sunrise work its way through flannel and fleece covering my back, and like hearing and seeing a multitude of other wild birds and four-legged critters go about their daily business as if I wasn’t even there.

When May rolled around, stubborn ice finally departed our lakes and I went into fishing mode. With a 10-pound lifting limit put on me by a well-meaning doctor, I decided I couldn’t fish pike or walleyes since almost all of those fish I catch are 10 pounds or more. So I decided to stick with bluegills and perch of which those I routinely catch weigh only 5 pounds.

As it usually does, spring slid into summer and with it, many enjoyable outings with my new toy, a fishing kayak. I very quickly fell in love with it on my first outing when I hooked and landed on an ultralight rod and a reel spooled with 4-pound test, two largemouth on consecutive casts checking in at 17 and 20 inches, respectively.

Summer continued with camping weekends with my lovely wife in our pop-up A-frame camper. When it came to fishing, I found a few secret honey holes for bass and panfish, which were not all that great as honey holes go. Sometimes though, loons yodeling, mink darting along a brushy shoreline, and unlimited peace and quiet are more important than catching big fish.

A new-old honey hole, one which I hadn’t fished in 25 years, was just right for kayak fishing and it was the perfect place for catching 20 or 30 largemouth in three hours or less. Never mind that even though most were less than 14 inches, catching them on ultralight equipment was just downright fun. Along with that, the best thing about the balsam-ringed lake was that on four trips there I never saw another fisherman excepting Ed, one of my best fishing friends, whom I invited along one time.

August was a month of waiting. The waiting, which was painfully excruciating, was for that magic day in late September when, once again, my truck and I would point our noses west toward the prairie country of North Dakota.

I went early this year, intending to do some fishing before loading up the shotgun for ducks, but daily winds in the 25-mph range scotched that plan. The nice thing about that was that I instead was able to spend three days just driving around my beloved duck Mecca scouting ponds and sloughs, marveling as I have for 27 years at the number of ducks of many different species that were there to welcome me.

For several days after that, I was in the company of other duck hunting nuts including the Illinois boys and my son. A couple of tours in Afghanistan, mixed in with other Army and work duties, had kept Brooks from North Dakota for 10 years. Our days together in the world of ducks, enjoying the best mallard hunting I’ve ever experienced, were excellent days indeed.

The usual tall tales, trash talking, bragging and eating ducks were some of the best any five guys could experience and though we are barely looking at a new year, I am already chomping at the bit for next October.

November brought with it some early snow and good conditions for the opening day of deer season. I had a great season, although I didn’t get to watch many squirrels play or have any chickadees sit on the end of my gun barrel as my hunt came to an end after one hour.

For the third time in four years, my season was over by 8:30 a.m., this time, when a buck with misshapen antlers hot on the trail of a doe crossed paths with me opening morning. Pulling the trigger meant the end of my hunt, but now, after having already feasted on several meals of backstraps and steaks, I know the decision to take the shot was a good one.

In early December, I made my annual sojourn into the forest to search for the Griswold family Christmas tree I cut every year, although the search this year ended with a short hike to a balsam I had found on a scouting trip in October. That tree has lit up our living room for three weeks, highlighted with my favorite of all lights: four strings of old-fashioned bubble lights.

Now, with another year ended, I look forward to what outdoor adventures will fill the pages of the next year in my life. History marches on.