By: John Arkwright
We used to build our duck blinds in mid-July, over two months before duck season. Now we rush to get it done the week before opening day.
Back in the day, we were busy participating in spring and fall work weekends at deer camp, cleaning up and maintaining the hunt trails and, so many weekends in July, August and September consisted of the whole family, young and old, banging away at clay pigeons or shooting silhouettes or firing a few balls through the .308 to make sure it was ready for deer and moose season.
It’s different now and I attribute these changes to a few things. One, we’re getting older and while not lazy, our priorities change. For instance, when I was 15 or 16 years old you couldn’t get into an organized hunt club unless it was family owned.
Today I own my own camp and there are very few young people who enjoy spending time hunting and fishing like we did back then. Of course, we didn’t have cell phones, iPods or virtual reality video games. Our virtual reality was being outdoors and it was a great time to grow up.
Frankly, nowadays, too many of us put our guns away after hunting season ends and, locked away there in the gun safe, they collect dust for ten months. I was becoming one of those people, so last year I returned to our local gun club after a long sabbatical. I try to get out to shoot at least once a week and I really enjoy those outings.
One of the club members, Carl Giesler, comes out faithfully and brings his 14-year old grandson, Max, with him. Max has been shooting since the age of four and has probably been shooting skeet for seven years. He has developed excellent shooting skills. These outings make all of us try a little harder because this kid can really shoot and none of us old guys like to be beat by a kid.
On my dresser I have a picture of my daughter, Carrie, who was five at the time, with a duck decoy under one arm and her stuffed toy Snoopy under the other. We used to take off together for the day to hunt ducks or grouse with our black lab, Nugget.
We always had plenty of food and a Coleman camp stove to make our lunch and hot chocolate. Those were absolutely great days! Carrie, who is now 25, still loves fishing; she owns her own fishing boat, rides snowmobiles and recently has developed a love for ATVs. Every year we attend a few ATV rallies and she sure can hold her own.
I think I’m safe saying that when Carrie has children of her own, she will want them to have those same opportunities to go camping, fishing, and snowmobiling and ATVing. It seems like participating in these activities and the adventure of being together is what keeps us all young at heart!
Here’s my spin on this editorial: Spend as much quality time as you can with your kids when they’re young, because they grow up way too fast. In the blink of an eye you’re helping them fill out college applications. If you’re a hunter, join a gun club or, if you love riding ATVs, join an ATV club and get involved as a volunteer. Take your kids ATVing; it’s an awesome sport. Better yet, take them hunting, fishing and camping on ATVs, and make it a family event.
The emergence and popularity of ATVs is at an all-time high and provides families with unlimited options for enjoying the outdoors. Teach your kids how to be responsible, safe and to respect the environment, other people and private property. Most of all, just have fun together and create albums of memories that will last a lifetime!