By Andrew Johnson
The new year is here, and it’s that time again where we all make resolutions, both big and small, as to how this year is going to be better than the last.
There are the usual personal goals, such as eating healthier and exercising, that many of us share, and then there are the more wishful resolutions we make that are directly in line with our passions or lifestyle.
Perhaps this is the year you go on that dream elk hunt, or maybe it’s time to really make a commitment to becoming a better bowhunter. Maybe it’s ensuring you make the time to go hunting with an old friend again or resolving to simply spend more time in the field or a boat.
This year one of my resolutions is to help my kids gain more of an appreciation for the outdoors. Both my son and my daughter know how to bait a hook and can usually unhook any fish they catch, and they also know the difference between bucks and does, roosters and hens, and ducks and geese.
But this year I’m determined to educate them more and more as to the finer details of the landscape. Whether they choose to become avid outdoorsmen or not, I feel it’s important they know the difference between a cottonwood and an ash tree, and the same goes for knowing big bluestem from canary grass.
They both perform well in school, but this year I plan on exposing them to a different classroom experience by showing them the intricacies and wonders of the outdoor world. In other words, I want them to know and understand how all the smaller details help paint the big picture.
By doing so it’s my hope they gain an appreciation for the natural environment that goes far beyond hunting and fishing, and as they both become more involved in sports, activities with friends and pursuing other interests, I don’t want the importance of the outdoors to be lost on them.
Plus, this is a big year in the Johnson household as my son will take part in the state’s HuntSAFE program this summer. He is 11 years old now, and he’ll turn 12 around Thanksgiving, which means he’ll be able to hunt alongside me for the last month of pheasant season. It’s safe to say I’m probably more excited than he is, but lately he’s been asking more and more to join me when I head out the door.
He’s been on a few pheasant hunts, and we even took part in the mentored-hunt program this past fall. I was proud to switch spots with him and walk in his footsteps for a change while he carried the same .410 Winchester my father handed me all those years ago. It was pure joy to watch him keep an eye on the dog in hopes a rooster would rise.
However, during one of these mentored hunts is where this resolution of mine was born. As we put the gun away and headed for home, he peppered me with question after question, which made me realize how much I had really failed to teach him. It was eye-opening, to say the least, but I’m thankful it happened now as opposed to later.
Every parent laments how fast their children grow, so I don’t want to lose any more time in teaching my own children as much as possible about the outdoor world. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll come to understand how lucky they are to call the Dakotas home.
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