October 20, 2011
Right in the middle of the present, it's hard not to think about hunting seasons past.
There were good times, bad times, mistakes made and lessons learned. Think long enough and it turns into a historical account.
Lately, those thoughts have been on how one gets started hunting and fishing.
I was one of those kids who grew up wanting nothing more than to be outdoors chasing little critters or catching anything that would bite.
I didn't have any adults in my life to really introduce me to those things. In today's world, I would probably have immersed myself into something else, like being the best video game hunter and fisherman on the block.
I was that eaten up with the thought of hunting and fishing, and I have no idea why. It's only explainable with the idea that I was born with the gene that made me want to walk through the woods or sit on a creek bank as a hunter/gatherer.
|Sit along the creekbank |
And I was hell bent on fulfilling that desire.
I'm glad I didn't grow up in today's world. Instead, I grew up in time that was a little more accepting of the things I wanted to do.
I grew up in Southwest Little Rock, a suburb of Little Rock, Ark. They call us '09ers for the last two digits of our zip code. Some use that tag in a derogatory way. I don't have a problem with that. I wear the '09er tag with pride. It was simple place.
I lived just a few houses away from Fourche Creek, and despite its muddy, nasty water of the time, it was a perfect place to dip a worm for catfish or bream or even build a makeshift raft , Huckleberry Finn style, even with all the trash that floated down that creek in the 1970s.
To the west of those creek bottoms was a section of woods behind what was then the Arnold Palmer Driving Range on University Avenue. A few squirrels and rabbits and the occasional dove lived in that section of woods, where I spent my days running around like the Great White Hunter I imagined I was.
But here's the thing. I was doing all of that within the city limits of Little Rock. And this is what it looked like. A young boy around the age of 12 to 15 (after that my woodsy activities slowed, deferring instead for the much more difficult hunt of the fairer sex) leaving my house on a residential street of Little Rock, marching down the road, right by two Little Rock Police Officers' homes, with a shotgun over one shoulder like a soldier on parade, waving to the kids playing in their yards and the neighbors raking their leaves.
I would slip through their back yards, cross a busy road and into the Fourche Creek bottoms. And in all that time, not once did anyone stop me or inquire as to what a kid was doing walking down the street carrying a gun, or run for cover at the sound of my shotgun roaring on those days when a squirrel crossed my path.
Can you imagine what that scene would produce these days? Certainly sirens, possibly a SWAT Team and even front page news of "Crazed Kid Holding Squirrels Hostage, Tazed and in Custody."
When I got old enough to drive, my friends and I would often hunt before school, our shotguns mounted openly in the gun rack across the back window of the pick-up truck parked in the lot of Wilbur D. Mills High School.
It wasn't an issue, maybe because most people realized that we could have been involved in something far more nefarious than hunting and fishing.
Many of you remember those times. You lived them in either a rural or urban setting. But as noted, times have changed, so much so, that every so often we are reminded the number of hunters and fishermen are declining. Why wouldn't they?
|Introduce a youngster to hunting this season |
Everything in the outdoors has taken a back seat to the constant rushing around to after school activities, parents with two jobs, singe parent households, television and video games that have turned into baby sitters — you name the distraction.
In every part of society, those things have been proven to take away from the good things in life. Again, name the good thing that is suffering. For me my list includes hunting and fishing for all those youngsters, who like me, were born with the genetics that makes them want to walk through the woods or sit on a creek bank.
Luckily, as we grow older we can still do the good things in life, including hunt and fish.
This is a simple reminder, though, that as we continue to follow our pursuits, there are those much younger who want nothing more than to enjoy the things we love, but can't — simply because times have changed.
Maybe this season will be a good one to reach out to one of those kids, introduce him or her to some of the good things in life.