rowing up in Texas in an outdoor family is an experience that I will always cherish. Conversation in our household was frequently about the latest fishing trip or memories of great deer hunts from the last season. Then there was the planning.
My parents wholeheartedly supported my love of the outdoors. My Dad was who got me started to begin with, and my mom did everything from pack us lunches for our fishing trips to accompanying us on blazing hot days on the rocks fishing at Pleasure Island because I wanted her to tag along.
Early in my parents’ marriage, they fished a lot together, but once while crappie fishing on Lake Livingston, they found what my Dad talked about all the way to his passing in 2014, “a school of the most massive crappie I have ever seen.”
As the story goes, mom had to go to the lady’s room and Dad wouldn’t let her go until he got a limit. But for me, she would still not go.
I will never forget that.
Back then guns, gear and grub were just part of the lifestyle. We knew after a successful rabbit hunt, there would be fried rabbit the next night.
After catching some big sheepsheads, there would be delicious baked sheepshead filets.
And it never seemed to end.
People would come to our house and constantly be introduced to the great outdoors through mom and Dad’s wild game cooking. We didn’t do it because we were trying to change the world. It’s just how we lived. I had generous parents, and sharing meals with friends was a pleasure.
As the year ends and the world seems to be on meltdown mode, it’s good to have the skills to run a trotline and skin a buck like Hank Williams, Jr. talks about in the classic A Country Boy Can Survive.
The Mississippi isn’t running dry yet, but the interest has been up and the stock market’s down, and there are plenty of people getting mugged if they go downtown. Kind of scary that Hank got it before most of American society, isn’t it?
Having a deep connection to harvesting wild game is important. It’s sustainable use of a resource that has a conservation component as funds go to managing those resources and harvest helps alleviate the great American wildlife conflict that has turned on fully in the last couple of years.
The fact is feral hogs, whitetail deer, bear and elk need to be harvested, and we need to utilize that precious meat. Raising our children and grandchildren to understand the hunting and fishing lifestyle is crucial to the future of our resources and to their lives.
What would happen if we had a real crisis in America where the supply chain was hit at levels that made issues during Covid look trivial? Do you think a vast majority of young people would have any idea how to catch catfish, harvest deer or set a hog trap? Do you think most adults would?
The answer is no.
Having these skills does not make us superior. It does give us an edge when such a crisis hits, and it also should inspire us to reach out to others who are in need. This is especially true during the Christmas season.
Lisa and I have a friend named Veronica who does homeless ministry. We have been graced along with our daughter Faith to help her this year, and it has been a humbling and heartwarming experience.
Seeing her pack sandwiches, chips, water and treats like popsicles brings love and hope to people who are in desperate need. It’s easy to say things like, “they ask for it” or “they’re all drug addicts,” etc.
However, the reality is that they don’t all ask for it, and they’re not all addicts. Even if they were, it’s beautiful to see someone like Veronica helping.
The reason I bring this up is excess venison in our homes. Admit it, most of us end up with freezer-burned deer sausage or something of that nature. I challenge you as I challenge myself to find local churches doing feeding or ministry outreaches to the homeless and less fortunate and connect them with venison this year.
Meat costs are skyrocketing, and it would be a tremendous blessing. Don’t worry about giving away too much. Someone very special once said, “Give and it will be given unto you.”
Your blessing will come back to you.
Also, we shouldn’t forget those who don’t have opportunities to hunt and fish. My Dad never got to go with his Dad until he was about 10 years old. I’m talking about even going fishing.
He begged his Dad to take him, but it never happened.
My Dad knew he was going fishing one Saturday morning so my Dad tied a string to his big toe and to the door, so when his Dad opened it up, it would wake him. He hoped with this effort he could talk his way into going fishing.
He shouldn’t have had to go to this length, but I often wonder if he didn’t get that exposure to fishing that day how different his life might have been. Also, how different mine might have been.
There are kids out there who want to go fishing and hunting and they don’t even know it. Taking a kid out to the pond to catch bluegills and frying up the catch when he (or she) gets home is a fun way to spend time with a youngster. It let’s a kid see the beauty of fishing.
Taking a child on a doe hunt at the end of the season is a great way to give a youngster a chance at big game hunting. Cooking up some deer chili or getting some jerky done from that deer can be a game changer.
An even bigger game changer is taking some of that jerky or sausage to local homeless ministries and perhaps even serving them to give it out.
Learning to connect with others less fortunate is important in a culture drunk on itself. It’s something that can give others a quality meal and hope during challenging times.
Hunting and fishing isn’t just about the enjoyment we have in the field, but it’s also about the impact we can make with the bounty we bring back to the city.
—story by AUTHOR