New beginning at first of year

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Dennis Clay

Our readers know my first column of the year is always about giving back to the Great Outdoors. This is fitting, as it sets a positive tone for the rest of the year.

Picking up after others

There are many ways to accomplish the giving-back theme. The most common way is to pick up after the slobs who leave soda cans, worm containers, candy wrappers and other litter throughout the Great Outdoors.

It is difficult for me to leave a candy wrapper along a trail when on a hike. The normal, appropriate and proper procedure at this point is to pick it up. Leaving the wrapper is just as bad as placing it there in the first place.

Picking up litter is an easy and positive thing to teach youth when hiking, fishing, hunting, camping and otherwise spending time in the Great Outdoors. There are a couple of exceptions to the litter-pickup theme.

Diapers and broken glass are left where they are found. And even here an exception is made. If it is easy to scoot a diaper into a plastic grocery bag with a stick, I’ll do it. Sometimes broken glass is placed in a bag, with leather gloves on my hands. But don’t let the youth handle either of these nasty items.

A friend and I, along with his two sons, were fishing at a Columbia Basin lake. We talked about all the trash, mainly worm containers and soda cans scattered around our fishing spot. Before long, the two youth had cleaned up 30 yards on either side of our fishing area.

It may be necessary to slow down some youth, or they will clean up the entire campground. Actually, this isn’t a bad thing, of course. Think about this: A family of four park their travel trailer at the campsite and complete the hookup procedure. The parents relax in their camp chairs, but the two children visit several unoccupied campsites picking up any trash within sight. This procedure takes 10 minutes.

Good karma is often my goal for picking up trash. A friend had a moose tag a few years ago. We were hunting moose in the mountains north of Colville when in the middle of the road was a Starbucks coffee cup.

The Death Ram slowed to a stop. My buddy looked at the cup, then at me and said, “Good Karma.” He then jumped out and picked it up. Not sure there is any connection, but the next day he shot a 40-inch bull.

Teaching others

Another way to give back to the Great Outdoors is to teach a person about one or more aspects of hunting, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, etc. This is easy with youth, because they are not afraid to ask and are willing to learn. Adults are eager to learn, but sometimes reluctant to ask.

Teaching about fishing is easily accomplished by heading to a nearby lake or stream with the one person or a family of four. Imagine the teacher getting the youth’s rods baited and in the water, then slowing down and showing the adults how to accomplish each step in the process, such as stringing the rod, tying fishing knots, how to use a swivel, how to bait a hook, clean a fish, etc.

Hunting is a different game. The first step is to discuss firearm safety. Then it is time to fire both a rifle and a shotgun, which is not only educational, but fun, too. If the person is still interested, they should prepare and take the hunter education course.

Here is a good idea for a first hunt, say a deer hunt: No matter the age, be it 14, 44 or 64. Sling your rifle across your body and walk behind the first-time hunter and within an arm’s reach. Don’t walk three feet to the right or left, walk directly behind them and within an arm’s reach.

Camping can be easy and fun. Let’s say a family asks me to teach them how to camp. At this point the easiest way to complete the job is to invite them to go camping with us, in the same campground and preferably in the campsite next to ours. We would help them erect their tent, build a fire and prepare a camp meal or two.

Every family would be wise to keep a journal. Allow all in the family to make entries. Years from now, the journal will remind the family of camping at Conconully State Park, the fishing and camping trip to Steamboat Rock State Park and so on.

Remember, spending time in the Great Outdoors with family and friends creates memories which will last a lifetime. Giving back to the outdoors adds another element to the fun.

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