Brothers Billy Lander (left), Tim Lander and Chris Lander check out the moose that Tim Lander shot on Oct. 15, 2019, while hunting west of Moosehead Lake. Tim and Billy had been entering the moose lottery since 1980, but neither had been drawn until this year. Credit: John Holyoke

The more years I spend on earth, the faster each year speeds by. Not an original thought, I know: “Older” people have been telling me similar things forever. Now, it seems, I’ve finally reached an advanced enough age that their nonsense finally makes sense.

But as the years speed by, that doesn’t mean that everything’s a blur. Instead, the mental snapshots of each adventure stand out, long after the initial excitement has faded. Those memories of time spent afield with new and old friends are what we’re left with, and among the things I savor most.

So what did this year hold for you? I’d be curious to hear, and welcome you to send thoughts to me at

For me, 2019 was a milestone year. I got in better shape, lost a bunch of weight and started eating a lot better. I went into the gym regularly, which gave me more stamina when I headed out hunting or fishing.

Earlier this month, I marked three years since I was hospitalized after suffering a series of strokes. I remain grateful for the care I received, and the well-wishes BDN readers sent. And I’m thankful that I’ve been able to turn that wakeup call into positive action that has helped make my life more fulfilling.

In October, Islandport Press released my first book. I know, I know. I’ve told you about it far too often. Still, it’s a big deal to me, and I look forward to spending even more time on the book tour circuit in the new year.

Back in June, I fished with Dan Legere of the Maine Guide Fly Shop as we celebrated the 17th year of the BDN’s Win a Drift Boat Trip contest. There’s no such thing as a bad day on the East Outlet of the Kennebec, I’ve learned, and this year’s adventure was simply spectacular. We fly fished, chatted, ate like kings and caught a bunch of fish. I’m already looking forward to this year’s 18th annual trip.

In October, I went on a moose hunt with two buddies who’d never had their names drawn for a permit, despite having entered the state-run lottery since 1980. The Lander brothers had tagged along on my hunts, and on the hunts of one of their other brothers, but they’d not been the registered hunters on those trips. This time, they were. And when they bagged a moose, I was honored to be there to tell their tale. I can guarantee you that there weren’t two more appreciative hunters anywhere else in the state that day.

Come November, I spent as much time as I could in the woods, looking to bag my first deer. My wife and I spent the first few weekends at high school cross-country meets, so I did — gladly — miss out on a few key hunting days. As November ended, I was buck-less again. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

And here we are in December, looking forward. What does 2020 hold?

Well, I hope to tie more flies, and fish more often. Those are goals I’m sure I can achieve.

I’m also planning to finish — finally — that novel that’s been gathering dust for far too long. All of us journalists have our own “Great American Novel” stashed away somewhere, it seems. I’m not saying mine reaches that high standard, but I do think it could end up being a “Good American Novel.” And I’m mentioning its existence here in hopes that BDN readers will help shame me into finally polishing it up and submitting it to a publisher.

Since I’m in better shape, I think I’ll run a 10k road race next year. Heck, if I get really ambitious, I might even try for a half marathon. Who knows? As a new year stretches out in front of us, anything’s possible. Right?

Like, I’ve got a couple more buddies who’ve never been drawn for a moose permit. They’re due. Aren’t they?

And while we’re dreaming big, this might be the year that I finally get my first deer.

And then again, it might not.

Either way, I’m sure there are plenty of adventures awaiting. And I’m eager to see where the year takes me.

Happy new year to you. Keep sharing those outdoor tales with me.

John Holyoke can be reached at or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, has been published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...