In the mid 1980s, singer Whitney Houston had a hit song that coined the phrase, "I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." This has never been more true than when one is talking about the outdoors.
Every hunter or fisherman got interested and stayed interested in the outdoors because someone took the time to teach them. There are thousands, if not millions, of books on how to be a better fisherman, hunter, trapper, tracker you name it.
Books are a great source of knowledge and they are all thanks to someone wanting to teach those interested in the sport that they love. By and large most of us hunting and fishing today are because someone took the time to share their love of the outdoors with us.
A word that often comes up when talking about those who teach is passion. Passion is infectious. No matter what someone is truly passionate about, you can see and feel that passion spreading to those around them that they share with and teach.
This all means that each and every hunter and fisherman should feel an overwhelming sense of obligation to share their passion and pass on their love of the outdoors to the next generation. Most everyone has heard by now that the number of hunters and fisherman are on a steady decline.
This isn't hard to understand with all of the other distractions we have thrown at us every day. This fact makes it even more important for us to share our passion with the next generation. Luckily, today there are more and more opportunities to do just that.
Game management agencies all over the country have dedicated days set aside for youth hunters to get first chance at taking game before the masses hit the woods. This ups their odds of success and the odds that they will be hooked.
There are groups that sponsor mentored hunts, youth fishing days, and even outdoor adventure camps. All of these activities are designed to teach and share a passion for the outdoors.
Locally, we have a host of groups that promote getting kids outdoors with events such as these. The Logan Area Chapter of the NWTF just recently held the first of their 2 guided hunts for kids on the youth day for spring gobblers. Those young hunters were lucky enough to harvest four big Tom Turkeys out of the seven hunters in attendance.
The Huff Creek Watershed Association also hosted a youth event in the way of a fishing day. The association stocked the stream full of trout and invited youth from all over the areas to come and fish. Not only did the fish make for an exciting day, the group gave away a plethora of prizes to the kids.
The fun doesn't stop there. There are more such days on the horizon. The Buffalo Creek Watershed Association near Man, West Virgina, is set to host their annual kids fishing day on April 22. They schedule their event to give the kids in Logan County an outdoor activity on the first official day of the school spring break.
Events like these carry on all summer long and all over the state. They are all a great way to get kids excited and interested in the outdoors, but they are by no means the only way. Simply taking a kid fishing could be the spark that lights a fire.
Many of us, and I know I have been guilty of it in the past, take our hunting heritage for granted. I don't remember a time when I didn't hunt or fish, or that my family didn't hunt or fish. It makes it easy to assume that my kids will teach their kids to hunt and fish and so forth and so on.
That is all well and good, but we can all do better. Not only should we take our kids and teach them, but we all know someone else that may not get to enjoy those opportunities outdoors. Invite them along. Who knows, that little girl down the street might just be the next great wildlife biologist, she just hasn't been shown how to fish, yet.
Without a doubt, the children are our future. It is our job to teach them and introduce them to the wonders of the outdoor world because one day they will be leading the way!
Roger Wolfe is an avid outdoorsman and has spent most of his life hunting and fishing and writes a weekly outdoors column for HD Media. He is a resident of Chapmanville and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.