You don’t need to be an expert to introduce others to the outdoors, you need to spend some time with non-anglers and non-hunters, giving them the opportunity to get into the outdoors. (Contributed Photo)
As I become more “mature”, I find that being in the outdoors becomes much more important to me each day.
Much of it is just getting away from the office and the racket that’s associated with it!
To me it’s an escape and a chance for me to get back to my roots.
My brother and I were very fortunate to have mentors to teach us about the outdoors, when we were growing up in Watertown, South Dakota.
Our mentors were our dad who did some hunting, our grandparents that fished a lot and our next-door neighbor, Glen Matteson, who did everything imaginable in the outdoors.
He was really into the outdoors, He knew about archery, upland game, waterfowl, trapping, ice fishing and everything there was to know about the outdoors.
As far as we were concerned, he was the smartest man in the world when it came to the outdoors.
His knowledge was huge, as he knew just where the fish were biting, when the geese came through, when the furs were prime and the answer to every stupid question we asked.
We spent hours in his garage looking over his “Stuff”. Glen has lots of stuff, especially outdoor gear. I believe he had enough outdoor gear in his garage to open up a small sporting goods store.
What was cool about him was that he was willing to answer all of our questions, no matter how silly they may be. We were like a couple of hungry bullheads gobbling up all the information he could give us.
Armed with the information we gleaned from dad, our grandparents and Glen, my brother and I spent every minute we could a block from our house along the Big Sioux River, and as far south as Lake Pelican.
When it came to the outdoors, there’s not much we didn’t do! We fished, hunted, trapped, shot bows, hiked and did all the things kids could do in the outdoors.
We were really lucky to have someone introduce us to the outdoors.
Now days, things have changed! It used to be that a large part of our population was rural, people that lived in the country or in smaller communities and were closer to the land, they knew that hamburger came from a cow and pork came from a hog, not from McDonalds.
They knew hunting that and fishing was part of the American Heritage and a huge part of the wildlife management program.
The sad thing about things today is the fact that those that fish and hunt are in the minority and as the minority we need to get our behinds off the couch and start promoting our sports.
It seems as if there are fewer and fewer folks like my neighbor Glen, people who’ll take the time to introduce a kid to the outdoors.
Many kids come from one parent households with a parent who doesn’t know much if anything about the outdoor or who have no one in their family who’s into the outdoors to teach them.
All of us, the outdoors people can’t afford to sit by and think our sports are holding their own and there are people out there willing to teach people about the outdoors.
The outdoors future is up to you and me and other members of the hunting and fishing society to show youngsters all the great things that the outdoors has to offer.
You can pitch in and help by becoming a fishing instructor for the Game & Parks or DNR. No one expects you to know everything there is to know about the fishing, as you’re going to be talking with youngsters that’s eager for every bit of information they can get on the sport.
You’re just the one who can give them that information! No one knows everything about fishing and those that think they do aren’t the types of individuals you want to have as teachers anyway!
Conservation groups like Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited and Whitetails Unlimited and other wildlife conservation groups have mentor hunts and these groups are always looking for volunteers to help out.
When I was a kid, groups like the Cub and Boy Scout had wildlife and conservation merit badges, the leaders of these groups would love to have you come in and talk with their group.
Every state has a Hunter’s Safety program, I know these programs can use all the help they can get., and even if you don’t have time to become a full-fledged instructor, you can always volunteer to talk to the kids about archery, muzzleloading or dog handling.
All that needs to done is to take a kid out and show him how to catch a fish, doesn’t need to be a Master Angler fish. In fact, it’s best if you start kids on easy fish to catch like bullheads or bluegill.
Watching a youngster, you’ve introduced to the sport bringing in their first fish is one of the finest feelings in the world.
You’ve not only made yourself feel better, you made some youngsters day and helped the sport we all so dearly love, fishing!
Even if you’re not into fishing, you can teach a kid about hunting, camping or some other outdoor activity.
These kids are looking for something to do and there are so many things they can get into that could lead them down the wrong path.
Kids need an alternative so they aren’t out getting in trouble or setting in front of a TV or playing video games.
I really enjoy seeing a new angler catching a fish or a young hunter calling in a turkey, because I know that we’ve added another outdoorsmen or women to our sport.
Another way to support the outdoors is to support the banquets that are held by various conservation groups.
Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation are all tremendous conservation groups that do an excellent job of promoting the outdoors while working to increase habitat and wildlife populations.
It’s up to all of us, the outdoorsmen and women to promote the outdoors, to inform the youngsters, as it’s the future of our sport in the outdoors!
Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award- winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster and in 2017 was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.” Howey is also an award-winning writer, producer, broadcaster, former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide and in 2017 inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame”. He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. He’s the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program carried on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota, KWYR Country 93 AM and Magic 93 FM in Central South Dakota, As well as on KCHE 92.1 FM in Northwest Iowa. If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey’soutdoors.com , and www.outdoorsmenadventures.com, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Team Outdoorsmen Productions.