The Future of the Great Outdoors
article by Dan Chason
I remember when I was young and the passion that I had for any kind of hunting. My dad didn’t deer hunt or duck hunt, so when I turned 15 and got my driver’s license, I was ready to explore the world outside of dove and squirrel hunting that I enjoyed with him.
My first duck hunt took place on Corney Creek Lake when an older friend (all of about 18) convinced me that I needed to come there and experience what duck hunting was all about. Problem was I did not have a single thing other than a shotgun when it came to the right gear. He invited me in early January and told me that we could camp out about 500 yards from the duck hole. Being young and stupid, I could not wait to get there for our trip, even though a quick look at local weather forecast would have told me to pick another date. I asked him what I needed, and he told me “chest waders, shells, a gun and licenses.” At the time I was bringing home a whopping $55 a week, so I could splurge and get prepared. I went to the local box store, and lo and behold, the chest waders were in stock. Only problem was they were $65 a set. I looked next to them and saw a set of rain pants (overall style) and thought to myself, “Hmmm, I can take the rain paints, tape them to my insulated rubber boots and be good.” The rain paints were like 12 bucks, so I grabbed them, a roll of duct tape and off to Corney Creek Lake I went.
When I arrived, the wind was blowing about 1,700 miles an hour and ice was on my windshield and truck. We never did get the tent set up and opted to sleep in the cinderblock bath house at the ramp. I have never been that cold in my life but the warmth of knowing my lanyard would be full of ducks the next morning was enough. Long story short, my rain pants lasted about 15 seconds after I waded into the frigid back water. My friend ended up having to carry me out on his back and cut my “waders” that were frozen to my legs.
I tell that story to move to current times. I have nice waders now and opt to Sunday hunt most times. I don’t walk to the blind but rather get dropped off. This is where today’s “young guns” come in.
I have been a professional guide for years and have probably been through more 20-something-year-old kids who want to play with the big boys than most. Most say they want to learn the game, but usually fade away when the work starts. That is until I met a young man named Jared Sebren. This young man loves to fish and is a duck maniac. He is a large young man, but I found his size to be beneficial when it comes to breaking ice or picking up anything that may throw out my back. You have never seen a kid more excited than when Jared is in the blind with “Teal” his chocolate lab and birds overhead. He is very amicable, and most times if something tough needs to be accomplished, I can always count on Jared. Jared is an inquisitive man and is like a sponge when it comes to learning the tricks of being successful in the outdoors. He can always be counted to pull his load and is about the best I have ever seen at brushing blinds. He just has a knack for it. He reminds me a lot of me at his age, when I would barrel off into the unknown and was usually not prepared with the right equipment. But age teaches us the most valuable lessons, and hopefully, being around the “old guys” at the camp will lessen the hard lessons we learned early on.
I met Tyler Hamby or “Hambone” as we call him a couple of years back via Jared. Tyler is a nimble young man who will climb a tree in a heartbeat just to see what is on the other side of the hill. I have seen him wade through water moccasins and gators to catch a frog and am always amazed at just how tenacious he can be when it comes to getting after a critter. When you combine Jared and Hamby, you have your hands full. One thing I can say is that both of them were raised right. There is always as “yes, sir” and a willingness to pitch in, even if it is washing camp dishes or four wheelers.
I have been blessed to be around them and to pass on things I have learned from shooting tips, to deer stand placement or how to put a duck blind where it belongs. I think that is what is missing in today’s young people. That desire to lay down the “X-Box,” not sleep to lunch time and get into the woods or on the water to hone your skills. But one key with both of these young men are fathers who hunted with them and shared their knowledge. Not only did they learn some outdoor skills, they learned how to carry themselves with older adults in a manner that is respectful and mutually enjoyable.
If you want to become one of these young guns, let an old man give you some advice:
1. Always be ready to go at a moment’s notice. You are the student, so get on the teacher’s time clock.
2. Ask questions but know when to shut up. The time to be inquisitive isn’t when you are being taught how to stalk a deer.
3. Clean up behind yourself. You aren’t a kid anymore.
4. Always practice good gun safety. It doesn’t take but one “uh oh”…
5. Tote your own weight. If you are at the camp, bring food, drinks or something to make sure somebody isn’t taking on another mouth to feed. Again, you are grown now.
6. Respect other’s areas. Don’t sneak into a stand just because you know where it is and hunt it, because your teacher is not there.
7. Respect game laws at all costs.
8. Listen and learn
9. Always be worthy of the trust you are given.
All I know is that if Tyler Hamby and Jared Sebren are an example of 20-plus-year-olds of today who love to hunt and fish, the future of the outdoors are in good hands. My hats are off to their parents. “You done good,” as my Pop would say.