I think that everyone is more than a little happy to say goodbye to 2020. According to the Chinese zodiac, it was the year of the rat. Although 2020 may have started off the same as any other year, by the end of March our world had turned upside down. Thankfully it’s all in the rear-view mirror. Goodbye 2020 and goodbye rat! We are moving onto bigger and better things in 2021.

According to the sources I checked, the Chinese zodiac assigns an animal to each year on a 12-year repeating cycle. 2021 is the year of the ox and the ox is a symbol of diligence, persistence and honesty. That’s a pretty good way to start off the new year on a positive note. I might be jumping the gun a little because the Chinese zodiac year doesn’t start until Feb. 12, but who doesn’t want to put the year of the rat behind them as quickly as possible?

I decided to test the 12-year cycle. Had good things happened to me? Did I have good outdoor years? I discovered that I was born during the year of the ox. From there it was easy to determine what significant outdoor events happened to me 12 years later. I successfully passed my hunter’s safety class and I participated in my very first deer gun season. I can still picture the buck that I missed. I also remember just how devastated I was but, the experience did help me become a better hunter.

Twelve years after that I got married. That’s at the top of my list for the year, even above the big buck that I shot. Great outdoor events don’t stack up against family.

What happened 12 years after that? I had a break-out year of musky fishing. The previous year I had fished twice, late in the musky season, which is why I decided that it was something I wanted to do a lot more of in the following year: 1997. I spent the offseason buying a few lures and a new musky rod and reel. When the new season rolled around during that year of the ox, I boated 13 muskies.

During the next year of the ox, I bagged the biggest buck of my archery career to date. It was a big wide nine-pointer with a double brow tine. That buck had come in so quietly that I didn’t see him until he was 15 yards away. It’s one of those mental images that is burned in my memory forever. It’s hard to believe that it happened 12 years ago.

So here I am again, about to start another year of the ox. It’s easy to be excited about a new year when it comes with such high expectations. Will this year of the ox be the year of a new personal-best musky, walleye, white-tailed buck, elk? If that happens, we may have to retroactively rename 2021 as the year of DAVE!

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