Happy New Year!
Start The Year Outdoors
January 1, 2021
The year 2020 saw a lot of people venturing into the outdoors for the first time. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, this past year 6.2 million new shooters took up the sport. There was also a spike in camping and other outdoor activities. Some people were afraid to gather together inside, but outside is a different matter. If you are one of the newbies, I hope you continue to enjoy the outdoors this year and for many years to come.
Many Good Reasons
There are a lot of good reasons to enjoy the outdoors. For one thing, being outside is good for your mental health. In Japan, they call it ShinrinYoku – forest therapy. Being outdoors surrounded by nature lifts your spirits. Here's another great reason – your family: How do you want your kids to remember you?
When they grow up, will the mention of your name conjure up a vision of the two of you camping under the stars, hiking through the woods, landing a big bass, or grinning with a trophy buck, or will they remember you constantly at the office or stretched out on the couch keeping the television company?
Teaching a kid to camp, hike, hunt, or fish does more than just get them out for some exercise. Knowing how to handle a gun, build a campfire and catch a fish gives kids a feeling of self confidence and an appreciation of the fragility of life. Being with your kids outdoors teaching them or even learning along with them will build a camaraderie that is impossible to achieve any other way. I know, because I grew up with my dad teaching me all those things, and we were best buddies.
Hunters and fishermen are the original conservationists because we are the ones who love the wild the most. How can you expect your children to save the planet if they haven't learned to love it?
Get Out There, Even Nearby
This year, resolve to take a kid fishing, hunting, hiking, or camping. If you don't have kids of your own, borrow your nieces and nephews. Forget the usual excuses – if you are lacking in the gear department or can't afford to get out of town you can still spend the afternoon at your local urban lake. They are regularly stocked with trout and you can get a rod and reel combo and a jar of Power Bait for about twenty bucks. That's all you need to get started.
Just recently the Game and Fish Department peppered the Urban Lakes with some lunker trout as incentive. Pack a lunch and get out there before they're gone.
Hiking And Hunting With Kids
Hiking requires even less gear – find a trail near you and get some comfortable shoes and a water bottle. Granted, camping takes some gear, but you can improvise or borrow stuff from other people. Shop resale stores and check your local buy sell and trade listings. Estate sales and yard sales are good too.
If you're not sure how to get into hunting, start with a Hunter Education Course at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. At http://www.azgfd.comyou can find listings of all the free classes and seminars they put on every year, too. There are lots of Juniors-only hunts so your kids can get a chance at a deer or some doves without competition from the more experienced hunters. Just check the regulations. If your kids are under 14 they don't even need a license as long as they're with a licensed hunter or fisherman.
Bringing People Close
Something about fishing and hunting together makes people close. You'll open up by the campfire and talk to your hunting buddy about things you probably wouldn't tell anyone else. If you want to be close to your kids, take them outdoors.
If you want to learn more about camping, survival, fishing, hunting – or anything else to do with the outdoors, there are many places you can go online for great videos, articles, and help. Learning things together with your kids is a blast, and if you study up, then show them how in real life, you're going to be a superstar.
Learn how to start a fire without matches, set a snare, make a stove out of tin cans, find the North Star, read a map – any of those things are valuable to know and important to pass on to your kids. Get a copy of the Boy Scouts of America Handbook – there is a ton of information in that book, and you can take it with you outdoors. There's also a fantastic little book by Richard Skrein called 50 Things to do in the Wild that has a ton of great survival and outdoor tips with illustrations. You and your kids will have a blast!