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Where have all the hunters gone?
December 5, 2013 - Michael Palmer
The long Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional time for family outdoorsmen to spend time together hunting. It’s true from coast to coast, South to North. While the most pursued game surely is deer, for some family sportsmen, it might center around ducks in a marsh, doves in a field, or squirrels in a small patch of woods. At our house it was deer season and from great uncles to younger cousins we all spent a week together sharing the experience and listening to stories told by the fireplace of hunts long past.
The point is that family time and outdoor hunting customs go deep, with a long, rich history throughout America. Recently I have noted that tradition is disappearing. As I drove through the country on county roads and township gravel I saw few vehicles park alongside the road ad even fewer orange dots on the hillsides.
Is it the economy? Or is it just that in our modern world that the family unit is deteriorating and along with it our traditions? My mother's generation valued the holidays and celebrated the family get together. Even Thanksgiving dinner has become more of an obligation than a celebration for most families.
Our hunting week was often more of a frustration for the older hunters who were dragging along young inexperienced and usually noisy kids. But they understood what we are rapidly forgetting, it was never just about bagging a big buck. They realized that while we were digging through moss and checking out the insects scurrying for cover, we were learning a lesson in life. We experienced the outdoors, we learned how to appreciate nature, got hands on lessons in conservation and were instilled with an understanding of how al the creatures of the forest were connected.
I am not sure that sharing the secret code to upgrade your weapons so that you can kill more zombies on your television is teaching those same lessons.
It does not even have to be about hunting. Just go for a walk in the woods with your kids or grandchildren.
Practice and preach conservation ethics, be sure to point out wild flowers, a hawk or osprey soaring overhead, or a turtle on a log by the pond. Thrill to the sight of a hummingbird or a butterfly, and they will, too. These things wild and exciting will go a long way in a youngster’s understanding of the environment, of conservation, and of the importance of the real outdoors.
I gave all of my children the opportunity to hunt and to shoot, none of them became avid hunters but they all have a real passion and love for nature.
Now if I could get them all to show up for Thanksgiving dinner my wife would be thrilled.
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