Everyone tends to eat too much around the holidays. I know I do.

Consuming too many calories for one or two days isn’t going to ruin your diet, but constantly munching on cookies and cake will start to add to your midline. Are you dreading the idea of going to the gym for a workout, or dusting off the treadmill in the corner? With the beautiful weather that we have been having, why not get outdoors and burn off some calories while enjoying this late fall season.

We all know that exercise is good for us. Exercise raises your metabolism, helping you have more energy and burn more calories during your regular activities. Exercise will help alleviate anxiety and stress, improving your mood and outlook. Just raising your heart rate for 20 minutes every day will do wonders for your health, and you will definitely feel better about yourself.

But who wants to do something that they don’t enjoy? Like an old plaything that we no longer find amusement with, exercise will be discarded and forgotten. So, we need to make exercise fun again.

Did you know that pheasant hunting for only an hour will burn approximately 375 calories? Think about how many miles you walk, through brush and tall grasses. Not an easy stroll down the street. An evening sitting in a deer stand can use up to 600 calories. Sure, you may be sitting, but it takes energy and concentration to sit still. Not to mention that it cools off in the evening and you are trying to stay warm while sitting motionless. A two-hour walk through the woods on uneven ground will take care of that extra piece of pie that you had at dinner or that bowl of ice cream before bed. An hour-long hike through the hills will burn about 250 calories.

The truth is, if we are doing an activity that we are enjoying, it’s not drudgery, and we aren’t even thinking about how many calories we are using up. Even fishing gets you out into the fresh air and burning some energy. Exercise doesn’t necessarily need to be intense. Sure, you may want to do a serious workout every once in a while to really work up a sweat, but most people just need to get some extra activity regularly.

Exercise is just one of the advantages of getting into the outdoors, and when the weather turns colder, being outside still has the benefit of burning extra calories. Just the added weight of heavier clothing, and the effort used because of the limited movement, will burn extra energy. Add to that, your body burns a lot of calories keeping your body temperature up. Conversely, raising your metabolism with exercise helps your body to stay warmer.

So, if the holiday blues have hit, or you have stayed at the dinner table for too long, grab a friend and go for a walk in the fresh fall air. You could load up the dog and head out in search of some ringnecks too. Either way, you will feel better afterwards, and your body will thank you for taking good care of it.

Taxidermy Tip of the Week

Have mounted birds in your house? Do they need some TLC? Here’s a few ideas to make them look like new again.

The main thing with bird mounts, or any mount for that matter, is to keep it dusted. It doesn’t matter how neat or clean of a house that you keep, mounts will get dusty. Leaving the dust on them makes them look dismal and dull, and a regular light dusting is all that it takes to keep them looking nice.

The best way to dust bird mounts is with a feather duster. Be sure to use strokes going with the direction that the feathers are laying on the bird so that they don’t become ruffled. If feathers do become disheveled, just smooth them down and they should go right back where they belong. Once a mount is completely dry, the feathers are set in place permanently, and will lay right back into place if moved.

There is a cleaning misnomer that I would like to dispel. I have heard of the advice to wipe a bird down with a piece of bread. I am sure that the dust will stick to the bread, but the bread will leave behind oils and crumbs that will make the mount look unkempt.

If you have stubborn dirt and dust on a bird, use lacquer thinner to clean it. Do not use water or any water based products. Water will soak into the feathers and make it look scraggley. Even when the feathers dry they will not look right. Feathers have to be “fluffed” when dried, otherwise they will continue to look wet, even when dry. Simply apply some lacquer thinner to a rag and wipe down the mount. The dust will come right off and the lacquer will dry very quickly, leaving the mount looking like new. Wipe only the feathers with the lacquer, as the feet and bill are most likely painted, and lacquer will remove the paint.

Another piece of advice is to place your mounts where they don’t get a lot of sunlight. Sunlight is high in ultraviolet rays and will cause considerable fading of the feathers, which is irreversible. Keep your mounts away from windows that will allow direct sunlight on the mount.

If Fluffy or Fido has gotten ahold of your bird, it may still be repairable. Dogs and cats do seem to be inordinately attracted to bird mounts. Many times damage is repairable, as long as most of the feathers and skin are still there. Baseballs, frisbees, and slamming doors are additional culprits of harm to bird mounts. If your bird has taken a nose dive off the wall, call your taxidermist, they may be able to get it fixed back up.

Daryl Keyes is owner of Pheasant Hollow Taxidermy. His columns on the outdoors are featured regularly in The Telegram.

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