Ever been hunting or fishing, when a rowdy group of “outdoorsmen” rush by you, hooting’ and hollering’ ? I have, and there is nothing more disturbing to my peace. I’d say it’s the equivalent of me sending my wife for a spa day and having the massage therapist talk her ear off during her time to relax.
Outdoor ethics or “rules of the wild,” as some say, is a lesson as old as the world itself. I chose to write about this because of how I view the outdoors- something to be cherished and respected, not owed. I love the outdoors, whether I’m walking to my car before I head to work, if I’m hunting or fishing. I love it all- the peace of it, the beauty- you name it. So to me, it’s hard to understand how there are so many self-proclaimed “true outdoorsmen” that constantly destroy what we are so blessed to have. I was fortunate enough to be raised with some true men of the outdoors- my Dad, Step Dad and my Grandfather, both old school mentors of the way of the wild. I was taught that you only catch or kill what you intend to eat.
A memory of this that I have was from around the age of 7, when I really started to enjoy the outdoors and wonder about all aspects of it. I remember asking my Dad if I could shoot a squirrel that I had seen while we were walking around the woods. He replied “only if you plan on cleaning it and eating it”, to which I responded, ” I don’t know how to clean it”- his reply- “well you’ll learn quick”. Needless to say, I shot and ate that squirrel. I don’t recall the taste; it must not have been bad or great because I would think I would have remembered otherwise. I give that silly illustration because I believe that the “true” way has been lost over the last generations or there are just really small pockets of it and I don’t get to see it.
Case in point- this past season deer hunting, I was out at a WMA, (Wildlife Management Area) basically the only way you can hunt unless you own land or know someone who knows someone that has land. So, I look at a map and pick out the spot that I think may hold some deer, mind you in these places there are people all around and only certain areas that vehicles aren’t allowed. So I park my car and start walking meanwhile in the distance I hear the ever growing sound of an engine roaring, not 200 yards away are a group of men in a huge swamp buggie, all holding semi-auto rifles- presumably hog hunting. Plowing through the woods, they went hootin’ and hollerin,’ fire off some rounds here and there. I start thinking to myself “how is that being a hunter?” “How is that being a true outdoorsman?” It really bothered me. I know we live in a free country and as long as they’re not breaking any wildlife laws its “ok”. But to me, how can you actively pursue game in a vehicle with semi-auto rifles plowing through the woods calling yourself an outdoorsman? I think that modern rifles are great and all that and I’m not some purest shooting a long bow saying what they do is unethical. I love all my outdoor gadgets and gizmos just as much as the next man. I guess I wish people that loved the outdoors, like I do, treated it with respect. Now, I’m sure those men love being outside and all that- I just think they are missing the point. God provided us with all that we see around us, from the birds in the sky to the fish in the sea-and I think it deserves that kind of love and respect. I think examples like these can be great for future generations to build from and learn, respect the outdoors and it will treat you well.