Sunday, March 6, 2011


This spring break I'm going to try to teach El Fisho Jr. a little about the outdoors. He's at the age I was when I became actively interested in the outdoors and unlocking some of the secrets of nature.

When I was his age, I got to wander. My friends and I thoroughly explored the vast wooded regions that bordered three sides of the subdivision we lived in from the time I was in 6th grade onwards. We were lucky to have more than one pond and lake within walking distance, as well as all kinds of woods to play in. Thick and brushy piney woods. Once cleared land that had sprouted threes 20 or 30 years before but was not brushy and thickly overgrown. Swampy bottom land that was densely wooded and that never dried out. Hog farms. Chicken forms. Former horse farms. Big wide open pastures that had not been used for decades that were filled with tall grasses and wide varieties of birds.

We had all of that, and more, within walking and bicycling distance. Crossing across the highways bordering our subdivision led to more lakes and ponds, which were the primary objective of my fishing friends and I. Our pellet guns and fishing rods were our constant companions on these journeys, and while sitting and fishing we often practiced various kinds of woodcraft gleened from books like the Boy Scout Handbook and books by the likes of Bradforn Angier and magazines like Sports Afield, Outdoor Life and Field and Stream.

Back then, our parents didn't live in mortal fear that child predators, crazies and the just plain mean were wondering the streets actively looking for prey. Bad things happened back then, but not like nowadays.

So I'd like to teach El Fisho Jr. some of the kind of information that is forgotten to many these days. How to start a fire with a flint and tinder, or with a magnifying glass. How to find your way with a compass. How to find deer and animal trails. Setting up a fish trap made of sticks in a slough of a creek or river or in the cove of a lake or pond. How to set up, bait and run a small trot line. How to build a fire. How to build a lean-to shelter.

Along with things like I've mentioned, there is nothing like the smell of outdoor cooking, particularly when well done. There is nothing like the early morning light, when you grab a favorite long gun and go on a wooded walk. The sights, the smells, the morning dew and in this time of year, a bit of a chill in the air most early mornings. I want him to have my old .410 single shot H&R shotgun broken open in his arms, walking quietly through the woods, with me and my dad's .410 singleshot that he bought him when he bought me mine carried the same way.

We're going to go visit one friend in East Texas who has a nice place with a couple of ponds that we can stroll around and fish in. We can do all the kinds of shooting that we want to there at his place. And then we will hit the Hill Country for a day or two of fishing in those parts, either for white bass at Colorado Bend State Park or at another locale for largemouths on a friend's place near Kerrville. Maybe a day of each.

I know we're going to have a lot of fun.

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