Now that I’m in my 50s I tend to look at life a bit differently than I did when I was…oh, say 20 or 30 years old. When a person is younger they have an abundance of unbridled energy and enthusiasm. As you age, the mind often says I sure want to do that, but the body doesn’t always agree with that misguided thinking.
This past weekend while I was deer hunting I looked up at several trees and thought…hmmm, those trees would sure be wonderful supports for a cobbled together deer stand for next season. All a person would have to do is climb up the tree, start pounding some nails into wood, and contort the body into unusual positions to get the project completed. Sure sounds like fun…NOT! Well, it did when I was half my current age, but not now.
As a sportsman ages you learn to adjust your activity to what your body can endure. Unfortunately, there comes a time when many hunters (and certainly even fishermen) simply give up. When the fun of an activity becomes a chore, that signals to many it is time to move on to other less strenuous activities.
Now, let’s contrast this with the efforts underway by many organizations to get more youth involved in the outdoors. A very noble cause and I don’t mean to take anything away from those efforts, but I still have to wonder if perhaps we are forgetting about the other end of the sportsman spectrum?
I think it is time all of us as sportsmen don’t overlook the seniors in their hunting and fishing camps. When things start getting tough—whether it be building deer stands, getting into or out of boats, walking long distances, etc.—several years can be extended to a sportsman’s outdoors fun just by providing a helping hand. Trouble is, for many seniors acknowledging this loss of independence is a bitter pill to swallow and they will not ask for help…and sometimes will not even accept it when it is offered.
It’s fine and dandy to introduce youngsters to the great outdoors. I think in many ways for our heritage to continue this is an obvious priority. But realize older sportsmen, or those with disabilities, also deserve some greater attention throughout our ranks.
Consider the efforts you spend to help an older person continue their enjoyment of the outdoors simply “paying it forward.” Eventually, God willing, we all grow older and our day will come soon enough to deal with these same dilemmas. Do you simply hang up the outdoors life for the easy chair or accept some assistance from a younger, stronger, more able-bodied person?
Thankfully, I am not quite to the point where I need to curtail too many of my outdoors activities thanks to a decrepit body…but when the day draws closer it would be my hope that someone younger recognizes the importance of keeping me out in the woods…or on the waters. If for only a few years longer than I otherwise could.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.