Tom Claycomb

Tom Claycomb

It seems like 90% of the people spend their life in a quandary. The ones that have the money to go hunting or fishing as much as they want are always working. And the people that have all the free time in the world, don’t have enough money to go.

I’m afraid with the current situation that we’re in with so many businesses shutting down, that a lot of people are hurting more than ever since probably the days of the Great Depression. So right now most people are in the latter boat, plenty of free time but no money.

But I’m a big believer in making the most of whatever situation that you find yourself in instead of wishing for something else. So with that said, let’s list out some low-cost outdoor options to entertain ourselves.

First, let me dispel one myth. You don’t have to go first class. I had the best parents in the world but we weren’t rich. So I learned to get by with nothing. In high school Richard Jaco and I would go to the lake for the weekend hunting and trapping. We’d be lucky to have $2.00 between us for gas. We’d have a coke and a piece of candy to eat for Friday night and Saturday. We didn’t have a tent and my sleeping bag had a broke zipper. We survived. And actually had a blast.

I used to rodeo a lot. A lot of guys may have enough to go to one rodeo every week or two. They’d stay in decent motels, eat out and live high on the hog. I learned if I went and slept in back of my car or in a room with four other cowboys, I could hit three rodeos/wk.

I’d rather go a lot than to have one Taj Mahal vacation per year. You can do a lot if you learn how to scrimp. So the morale to the above story is, tighten your belt and get outdoors and have fun.

So what are some low-cost outdoor activities that we can do and still stay within the guidelines of social distancing?


Ok, ok, I’m simple minded but I love whistle pig hunting. It’s low key and non-stressful. If you miss one it’s not like you’ve hunted for 10 days and missed the bull of your life time. .22 ammo is back down in price where it is affordable and if that is still too expensive for you then use an air rifle. Like alluded to in my earlier articles a few weeks ago they’re a blast to hunt with.


Any second crappie fishing is going to turn on. That is one of the highlights of the Idaho outdoor world. We’re blessed. We have great crappie fishing here. Sure, it’s nice to have a boat but don’t feel handicapped if you don’t. You can still load up on them.


Why is camping so much fun? Just go up in the mountains, throw up a tent and build a campfire, cook dinner and later on roast marshmallows. When the kids were small, we’d go camping nearly every weekend.

I have all daughters. We’d set up at night around the campfire and have a ball. The little rascals would have talked all night if I would have let them! I’d get up early the next morning and fire up a pot of coffee and read my newspapers until they woke up.

Katy told me if I was going take the girls camping I’d have to learn how to fix their hair. So they’d wake up, I’d fix hair and then we’d cook breakfast. Then we’d go exploring. They’d pick flowers and put in a bottle to later carry home to mom. We had a great time and it only cost a few dollars for gas.


There are 50,000,000 trails in Idaho. Do a big day hike on a Saturday. Or used to a lot of times we’d go up in the mountains after work on Friday and take a can of tamales, build a little fire and heat them up. We’d spread out a sheet and look at the stars and then hike back to the truck.

By the time we headed down they’d be riding on our shoulders fast asleep. The little terds would pick up a 100 lbs. of rocks and put in their pockets. I’d be throwing them out on the way down to lighten the load. Those were fun times.


No doubt, you can do better if you have a boat but I have shot truckloads of carp while wading. And don’t feel like you have to have a $750 setup. If things are tight grab an old recurve at a pawn shop or on eBay, slap on a reel, grab a few arrows and hit a lake or river. I used to go carp hunting nearly every afternoon after work.


You get my drift. There’s a million things to do outdoors so get out and have fun. We don’t like to be around other people when outdoors anyway so just stay away from anyone you happen to see. There’s a big outdoors out there waiting to be discovered. Use this free time and go have some fun.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana.He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.