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These days, it seems that both kids and adults alike can find a million reasons to stay in the house and never venture outdoors. After all, most folks have around 300 channels of television now. There are computers of some sort in just about every home and even the soon-to-be retired Pope Benedict has got himself an iPad.
It’s pretty sad to think about just how many children are growing up without ever experiencing what it’s like to land a fish, hunt a rabbit or call in a turkey unless they’re doing it in a virtual world while propped up in front of some screen.
It’s for these reasons that the responsibility for getting the next generation out of the cozy confines of their den and out into the natural world falls on all of us that grew up in a different time. A time when receiving three or four channels on the tube was the norm and even then it took rotating an antenna, standing on one foot and holding your mouth just right.
Back then it was up to us to fill our world with a life of adventure that only we could create. Those BB guns felt like safari rifles in our hands and only the bravest of squirrels dared to stand out on a limb and give us a clear shot.
I don’t even have to close my eyes to remember what it felt like standing along the water’s edge in our back yard with a Zebco 202 reel and cheap fiberglass rod in my hand.
It didn’t matter that the usual catch consisted of nothing more than a few bream here and there. With each little fish landed I was as thrilled as the day I caught my first blue marlin and that didn’t happen until I was late into my 20s.
The very first largemouth bass that I ever caught entirely on my own couldn’t have been more than two pounds but he was far more than my seven year old strength could bear. I finally gave up trying to reel him in and decided on an entirely new tactic.
Turning around and placing the rod over my shoulder, I began to walk back towards the house in an all out tug-of-war with that rascal and, miraculously, I won. I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face when I knocked on the back window and motioned for him to come out to see my prized catch. He couldn’t believe the way in which I had pulled it off.
Now, shouldn’t every kid have memories such as those?
If you agree, and are willing to accept the aforementioned responsibility of mentoring not just the youngsters but anyone that would like to learn the ways of the outdoors, our S.C. Department of Natural Resources is offering up a perfect opportunity to do your part.
The S.C. DNR’s Aquatic Education Section is looking for experienced anglers to volunteer their time to help out with a new family fishing instruction program. These “Family Fishing Clinics” are designed to help introduce the basics of fishing to anyone wanting to give it a try.
Participants will learn all about how to properly tie all of the necessary fishing knots, how to rig a rod, where to find fish, proper casting techniques and, of course, how to actually catch fish.
If you’d be interested in doing your part and becoming one of the agency’s “Certified DNR Fishing Instructors,” simply log on to www.dnr.sc.gov/aquaticed/instructor/ and register.
Volunteers will be required to attend a training session and undergo a simple background check. After that’s out of the way they’ll expect you to host at least two clinics annually with a minimum total of 15 students and no more than 25.
If, instead, you’re someone that’s interested in learning the sport yourself or have a child that would like to give fishing a try, simply contact DNR’s Lorianne Riggin by phone at (803) 737-8483 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only by accepting our roles as mentors can we guarantee that both our fishing and hunting heritage will continue. Plus, I’d be willing to bet that not only witnessing but being an active part of someone else’s first catch will feel a lot like it did when it was your own.
It’s turkey tag time
Those of us who receive our turkey tags by mail should have already received them by now but, if you’re one that doesn’t get the tags automatically, it’s time to get them ordered.
This can be done via the DNR web site (www.dnr.sc.gov.)
To legally hunt turkeys in our state, all hunters, even those too young for a license, must possess a set of free turkey tags. Those hunters 16 years of age and up are required to have both a valid hunting license and S.C. Big Game Permit.
Remember- To be legal, a tag is to be placed on the leg of any harvested turkey at the point of kill before the bird is moved.
This year’s Game Zone 2 “youth day,” when only underage hunters (17 and under) accompanied by a properly licensed adult (21 and over) can harvest a turkey, will take place on Saturday, March 30th.
As always, the regular season in our neck of the woods will run from April 1st until May 1st.
Per a DNR press release, “An estimated 50,000 hunters will take to the woods during the upcoming spring turkey season, generating an estimated $30 million in direct expenditures for S.C.’s economy.”
That’s pretty impressive for a one month hunting season.