To all of you outdoor enthusiasts, I challenge you to recall some of your first memories in the outdoors. Myself I remember a lot of them. The first morel mushrooms I picked with my father along the banks of the Iowa River, catching catfish from the waters of the West Fork in Butler County, and harvesting my first whitetail some 20 years ago. In my family these firsts are just the natural progression of growing up in a family that loves the outdoors. To think of many kids or adults that haven't experienced these firsts really saddens me.
There is nothing better than bringing new faces to experiences that they might have never known existed. We all have family or friends that haven't experienced a fish tugging on a pole grasped in their hands, or sitting around a campfire for the first time. To take someone young, or old, to experience these memories is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. To see their eyes light up when a turkey gobbles just yards away from them, or sitting on a stream bank waiting for the sun to show up, hearing the whistling wings of ducks graze the tree tops above them these are moments that our youth and even adults need to experience.
I was fortunate enough these past couple of falls to take my younger cousins from Wichita, Kansas duck and goose hunting for the first time. Those are memories I know I won't ever forget, and I doubt they ever will either. Experiencing their excitement as we set up the decoys, answering questions about blowing duck and goose calls, and the anticipation of the birds setting their wings and gliding into the decoy spread was something you can't describe. To watch their first goose and duck fall from the sky was truly amazing, they were memories that have hooked them to the outdoors forever. Even though harvesting the animals was their highlight; teaching the rest of the process was very important too. From dressing the birds, to preparing the meat, there were many lessons passed on that day. There are so many lessons that can be taught through the outdoors. The outdoors teaches you respect for the land and the creatures that utilize it, and also hard work, ethics, and commitment.
To prolong these outdoor activities and traditions we need to share these experiences with anyone that shows an interest or that is willing to come along. Reaching out to family members is often the first step, but there are many people that are eager to experience the outdoors with different last names. So I challenge everyone out there to reach out and pass our outdoor activities on, family or not we need to promote what the outdoors can offer. If harvesting an animal or catching a fish doesn't intrigue them, there are a lot more activities to bring them to the outdoors. Whether it is taking them hiking through the woods, or canoeing down one of Iowa's scenic rivers there are plenty of ways to share what the outdoors has to offer. Bringing someone new to the outdoors is something that is very rewarding and also fulfilling, so I challenge you to share it with someone.