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Phil Bourjaily: Youth Sports

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July 24, 2008

Phil Bourjaily: Youth Sports

By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

Last time, I talked about lack of access as the number one problem facing hunting today. True enough, but I would like to nominate another candidate, and, no, it’s not video games. Youth sports are killing hunting.

I don’t mean normal youth sports, like Little League (which I didn’t do. I had a very specific, irrational fear of being killed by a line drive to the temple) or playing on school teams (which I did enthusiastically). I blame the year-round, traveling team club sports for sucking up family’s leisure time and squeezing out hunting.

Parents take kids to another city, even another state, every weekend, then sit on folding chairs and watching games. And younger brothers and sisters get dragged along, too. It doesn’t leave much for taking kids hunting, or even for hunting at all. I don’t know how many times dads my age have told me, “We didn’t get out for ducks/deer/turkeys this weekend. We were in Peoria/Milwaukee/Des Moines for a soccer/basketball/baseball tournament.”

Since when did watching a kid play a game become more important than actually doing something with him or her? 

Comments (75)

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 37 weeks ago

Sue B.,You didn't answer my question. Are you being precotious

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from Sue B wrote 5 years 37 weeks ago

Jim in MO. just keep trying. I bet there is a woman out there who would love for you to take her out fishing or hunting.

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from Bill in VA wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Hunting is why I don't encourage my son to play football. I'm happy to watch him play basketball in the Winter and Lacrosse in the Spring, but during Fall I want him out hunting with me.

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Sue B.,When is the next Womens cast and Blast? The supermarket/bars hasn't produced no woman to my interest.

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from Sue B wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Kids these days are certainly keeping schedules that are way too booked. It leaves little time for exploring the out of doors with their families or by themselves. There is problem, but I hardly think that the problem is the "feminizing of U.S. Americans" or soccer dads who are "pu$$ywhipped by their spousal units."Come on guys. Just listen to yourselves. If you put half as much energy into taking your sons, daughters, wives, and sisters into the field as you do with ignorant complaints, you would see that there are a lot of women out there who cherish time spent hunting, fishing, and shooting.I recently volunteered at a Women's Cast and Blast. The class was totally booked with eager women who would rather be fishing and shooting than shopping at "Super Wally World."Do the sport and your fellow hunters a favor and keep the women bashing to yourselves.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Put a fishing pole or a .22 rifle in a kid's hands in the right setting at the right time and they are hooked for life! It's in the genes. Works for both boys and girls, at least until they become interested in what is in the other "jeans". LOL

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

The declining number of fishermen and hunters is due partly to the liberals who aim to feminize all males, or at least emasculate them. When you see supposedly heterosexual men with plucked eyebrows, getting pedicures, spending time in the tanning booth, getting botox treatments, and the like, you gotta wonder... What role model is that?I'll also bet that those soccer Dad's who "used to hunt" Kelley refered to are pu$$ywhipped by the spousal unit, as well.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

HEY!!! COOP!!!!"DEAR" SEASON!!! LOL!!Is his wedding anniversary coming up!?Sorry Coop! Just couldn't resist the temptation!Ya just gotta laugh every now and then!Bubba

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

My 8 year old Grandson Alex is counting the days until dear season and driving his family nuts watching the Outdoor Channel. THAT’S MY BOY!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Back in 89 stationed at Eielson AFB I was talking to the Elementary School Special Ed Teacher. She said she is having a hard time trying to get the kids to concentrate. One of the things I told her, one of the best training aids to teach someone to concentrate is shooting sports. She got approval from the School and I contacted Randy Pitney at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and got it all set up. The class really enjoyed themselves and there was not a single safety issue. On the bus back to the Base and the next couple of days, the teacher noticed that the kids where concentrating better than before. The following week there concentration was back as it was before. Too bad we couldn’t come up with a program that would benefit them like this.

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from Joe wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

My brother's doing this with his kids and it's driving me and my dad nuts. We grew up in a shooting family, and he's done very little to expose my nephews to hunting and shooting. He's too busy playing golf while his wife signs the boys up for at least two different sports year round.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave,I got the bug by reading O'connor and Keith when I was a kid. My wife will tell you only the grave will keep me out of the woods. There is no end in sight and no quit hunting in yours truly.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

If you want your kid to hunt and fish with you it's a good idea to never let a nintendo, xbox or whatever game in your house. It will be easier to get him to do his homework and chores too!

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from SilverArrow wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Ok so the link didn't post above.Try again here, then goin' fishing!http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/SA

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from SilverArrow wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I've pasted the link to our New Hampshire Fish and Game Dept website below. There is a wonderful photo of a kid holding a slab-sided black crappie bigger than his face. The caption reads "Parents don't frame pictures of their kids playing video games..."I know that refridgerators across America are festooned with fuzzy focused photos of kids playing football, soccer or baseball but how many of those photos feature a smile like this kid?SAPs. I am heading for the lake with my stepson now!

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Kelley,I genuinely appreciated your post.Chad,I am acutely aware that my children's world view is different than mine, and a part of me feels badly for them, but I suspect my parents felt the same way about me.When my daughter graduates, she hopes to be an elementary school teacher and her goal is in sight. I'm curious to learn what she observes in her classroom.All the best,Ed

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from DJ Stillwater wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Carney says..."At issue is the whacky peudo-centric household where the schedule and budget are overstressed by an inexplicable commitment to a sport which more than likely will not count for anything within the next decade of a child's life."You mean like competitive shooting?

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from Kelley wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Considering that I am a mom and not a hunter, I hope I am not breaking some kind of unwritten rule by posting a comment but my son plays baseball and hunts so this caught my attention. Based on the number of fathers I have met @ the ball park who "used to hunt", I would say organized sports definately plays a role in the decline in youth hunting.Most of my son's friends who hunt were exposed to hunting at a young age because their fathers hunt. We try to allow a balance of organized sports, hunting, fishing, and free time. As I am writing this, he came in and told me he just shot a frog with his bb gun and did the best wheelie ever on his bike. To me, that is as important as anything else.All of that being said, if youth hunting is declining and most of today's parents are not involved in hunting, it is up to hunters to create an interest for today's youth. While it would not be a good idea to hand someone else's kid a gun and take them to the woods with you, there are things you can do that will hopefully lead to them having an interest in the sport. When your kid has a friend over, talk about how much fun you and your kid have had hunting, frame pictures of their first buck, let your kid have their first buck mounted and hang it in their room, send a picture to the local paper when your kid kills a deer, offer to take them fishing for the afternoon. If none of this works and your kids friends never become interested, no harm done. But you never know, they could become interested enough that they will one day ask you to go hunting with them and their kids.

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Edward, loved your post. My wife is a high school teacher and her observations of her students, and kids in general, mesh with yours.

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

In a single generation, it seems the recreational possibilities and priorities have changed. My son is 17 and I see a portion of his time consumed by electronic games. On weekends, we go to a nearby rifle & pistol range together on a Saturday or Sunday. In summer, we occasionally scuba dive together. If we didn't have these priorities and that time together, he'd be glued to a computer monitor or electronic device...and I find that unacceptable; it's bubblegum for the mind, non-nutritive exercise for a small portion of the brain. Before X-Box and computer games, there existed an activity called "recreational reading", and there's precious little of that today. His peers who devote a great deal of their time to these games have little to show for it, and develop an odd perspective that mingles these games with a distorted reality. I've observed an inability or failure to develop social skills that seems to limit these kids' ability to interact intelligently with others who don't share that priority (other students, adults and teachers in their lives). They observe well, but they form opinions poorly and have difficulty developing those opinions in conversation. They're well versed on the games and a few can disassemble & reassemble a computer in the time it takes me to field-strip a firearm, which is a marvel to me, but their social skills are undeveloped. Impact on academic performance seems to vary with the individual student, but I see no enhancement and occasional detriment. My son is active in la crosse and is good physical condition, but some of his friends (I've known some of these kids for 10+ years) are couch potatoes, shaped like light bulbs at a time when their metabolism should permit them to burn it off with regular exercise. Some of these kids are going to encounter difficulties in the years ahead. I should add, as a common thread, all of the kids (girls and boys) that come to mind have uninvolved fathers.As for team sports, I agree that some of the parents should be discouraged from attending the games. I've seen a few baseball & football coaches that couldn't control their language or their competitive attitudes. On the contrary, I'm usually impressed by their dedication to the kids and grateful for their commitment. They are, for the most part, fine human beings and my children have benefitted from baseball and soccer.I think kids (and adults) need to understand the concept of teamwork and extend those lessons to the society they hope to join.I think the balance in recreational priorities for some kids has shifted from outdoor to indoor activities because it's convenient to permit it. As one parent commented, "At least I know where he is." When I was my son's age, my friends and I planned camping and hunting trips well in advance. That longer-term planning and organization seems inconsistent with many of today's kids. My son is "busier" than I was at his age, but seems to flit from one commitment or activity to another. I involve him in the planning for our scuba dives, for the choice and accessorization of his shooting equipment and field clothing, in as many activities as I can, but he's not inclined to spend hours (as I was) poring over books, maps, magazines and catalogues. The concept of delayed gratification seems more difficult for kids to accept, and that's a loss.He was required to save for his Ruger 10/22 autoloader, and he did, but he didn't seem to get as much satisfaction out of it as I. We use our shooting equipment regularly, and we set time aside to clean them together. It's one of our best opportunities to discuss things.My daughter is 22 and a student at a university about 50 miles away. She remembers her first shooting experiences with a .22 bolt action when she was 8 or 9 years old, though she's not active as a shooter now. Those are good memories for both of us.I'd guess most of the contributors to this blog are men, and (from what I've already read in preceding posts) I don't think it's necessary to ask you to set one-on-one time aside for each of your kids. They grow too quickly.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

P.S.Both my "Cowboys" are "Cowgirls"!They are both in law enforcement!They both hunt!Bubba

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Someone above posted about a coach with a whistle around his neck, screaming at a kid in a fit of rage that had the spit flying.Some coaches are like that, but you don't have to live with the coach. My problem is with the parents who follow the same routine.My children were allowed to make sports decisions on their own. One played a season of T-ball and loved it. But one season was enough for her. The other decided to play T-ball. After the first practice, she was through with it. She just didn't like it. They both rodeo'd through HS. The oldest even got a scholarship for her abilities.I say expose them to all sports, but let THEM make the decision as to what they want to do.Unless there is a drug, alcohol or behavior problem; just let 'em be kids!Bubba

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from Carney wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

A few of these posts are getting testy!If you go back to Dave's post he qualifies his statement by saying, "I don't mean normal youth sports like..." At issue is the whacky pedo-centric household where the schedule and budget are over stressed by an inexplicible commitment to a sport which more than likely will not count for anything within the next decade of the child's life. The character development; physical fitness; mental acuity; etc., etc. could have been gained for the child with a fraction of the involvement and expenditure of time and resources.I fear the real truth is that some parents wouldn't know what their parenting role was if it didn't include this kind of sports freneticism.

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from DJ Stillwater wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

OK Dave now I get it...If you dedicate your kids free time to sports like baseball, football, or soccer, that's a no-no, but if they're out on a trap, skeet field, or rifle range every day shooting hundreds of rounds of ammo and getting their picture in F & S that's just fine and dandy. No overbearing parents with folding chairs in THEIR world right Dave?Hypocrite

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from ShowMe2 wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave,With all due respect, I think you're making a big deal about nothing.It's really about kids making their own choices whether it's organized sports or outdoor stuff like hunting and fishing.I raised 2 boys who were good enough to receive athletic scholarships to attend college. They were both good students as well.I was an avid hunter, NRA Firearms Instructor and competitive skeet shooter. Although exposed to all these activities at one time or another in their lives, they expressed little or no interest in any of them, opting for the organized sports route, which was fine with me.The reality is, for a lot of reasons mentioned in a variety of the e-mails, kids just aren't as interested in firearms/hunting and the outdoors sports in general as they used to be.I think it's called social evolution. Get over it.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I think it's a tree-hugger thing."If I keep Johnny/Jane busy with (insert appropriate sport), they won't have time for hunting/fishing/camping."I played HS football, I wasn't any good at the others. Unless my team advanced to the playoffs (my junior year), the high school season ended before deer season started. Basketball started soon thereafter, but most of the games and tournaments were on weekdays. We didn't have a spring turkey season so baseball was a no brainer. I love, and still do, baseball! I just couldn't/can't hit, pitch, run or throw! And I'll guarantee you, the World Series WILL NEVER interrupt my hunting season.My biggest problem was squeezing dove hunting between two-a-day work outs in September!Bubba

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from DavidS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

well, i for one will not be a part of that scenario. my kids will play normal school sport, of course. but i wont even drive out of state for a nascar race, so i cant ever see doing it for some sports team and a trophy. especially now, with the price of fuel! now, i do take the kids shooting. not every weekend, but at least once a month. i go more often than that, partly because when i take the kids, there isnt much time for me to shoot, and, i really like to shoot. plus, i want them to develop other interests as well. when they grow up, i want them to decide what they do or dont like in life. if they like the stuff their old man does, great! but if they dont, at least they can have some real life experiences to draw from to help them with their decisions. not just somebody's opinions.

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from Mike Reeder wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I do think team sports can be overdone, especially if it's the parent doing the pushing. On the other hand, I think a lot of the suburban kids playing soccer would just be inside playing video games, not hunting, if they weren't on the playing field. We mostly lived in rural areas where just about all the boys on the various sports teams hunted at least a little, and some hunted a lot. My own boy was a helluva high school pitcher and played youth baseball, but I made a point to never push it. One of his best buddies played fall baseball and was constantly ferried by his dad from camp to camp, but my son lived to hunt and fish and as much as he loved the game he preferred the outdoors more. He ended up going to college on a baseball scholarship, and got a degree in wildlife mgt. The kid who played fall ball is now pitching for the Pittsburg Pirates and making a ton of money, so I guess all that time paid off. On the other hand my son arranges his entire schedule around fishing the flats and the various hunting seasons, and from being around both of them I'd say he's by far the happier of the two kids.

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from ChevJim wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I've raised this point about team sports hogging all of the family's time before. And, yes, it is a killer of outings with Dad, or Mom, or Uncle Joe. Other posters are dead on: youth athletics has been greatly oversold. Less than one tenth of one percent of highschool athletes will ever go pro. Maybe one half of one percent of college athletes will go pro. What's left is the "residue" of kids who got into college as "athletes" but who can't write a coherent sentence or figure out how much change they're due from McDonald's. Our priorities are all wrong. Look at the foreign students in our universities. They did not come to play football, baseball or basketball. They did not come to major in sociology. They came to major in business, engineering and the hard sciences. They do not care about being "popular," but about learning a profession. All Americans seem to think about is sports. To tell you the truth, I don't care very much about watching a bunch of millionaires throw a football around. For me, sports means increasing my personal fitness--not watching someone else increase his or hers. I personally couldn't care less if the NFL, NBA and MLB all disappeared into oblivion overnight. I'd rather be in a deer stand than a grandstand any day of the week. Kudos to all who sent the youth athletics "talent scouts" packing. Those hunting and fishing trips with Dad will mean a lot more than those ball games with all of the screaming parents. By the way, sports do not build character--they simply reveal it.

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from jamesti wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

how is it that i used to be able to play football, hockey and baseball in a single year and still have enough time to go hunting all i wanted? what has changed so much? is it the selfishness of parents or just the laziness?

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

One of the young men I mentor, (Why We Finally Stop Hunting) is kept extremely busy by his family. They mostly attend rodeos throughout the state. The other is connected to a "horse" sport for which his parents train horses for and can be quite time consuming! Especially weekends!Our small, country church is known locally as "Cowboy Church" because of the number of past PRCA cowboys as members. Most of them (the PRCA guys) are very dynamic personalities and are very personable.This fall, the first hunting season I will go through with them, will tell me which is actually interested in hunting! Hopefully, both!Time will tell!Bubba

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from Michael wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave,My son played little league baseball and football. He quit playing football after the 8th grade and stayed with baseball through high school. His reason? He said he never had a baseball coach get in his face yelling so hard that spit hit him. I agreed. He will tell you today that the memories of playing and the friendships he made during that time are priceless. He will also tell you the memories of our hunting, fishing, and camping trips are also priceless. One of his teammates spent every summer vacation with his parents at the college world series and played baseball year round. By the 10th grade, the kid was sick of baseball and his parents (who were certain that he would get a college scholarship and play pro; neither of which happened) There is the answer - parents today think their kids will all become pro players and millionaires. As a retired teacher, I can tell you most of the problems with students today in school can be attributed to the parents. It is sad.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Youth sports do take kids out of hunting -- to say nothing of how they take them out of church!Everybody misses the opportunity to gather with likeminded believers to worship God and be encouraged by His Word once in a while -- but families have allowed their kids' sports to derail the whole focus of their spiritual lives!

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from Rusty In Missouri wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

HunterBy Rusty In MissouriThe cold predawn light casts gray shadows on the groundFrigid air breathed with ease frost on the beardThe crunch of leaves under the hunters feetAt peace with the world the carnivore huntsEasy and purposeful treading alongEyes constantly scan the woods and glensAn essential evil the carnivore cravesA primeval hunter in modern formBody and mind steadfast in the questPity to contemporary shy too the taskOthers shall make the kill for themRemoved and sanitary wrapped and deliveredMissing the sweet sad thrill of the killThe blood of the butcher upon your handsAlive and closer than ever to deathThe carnivore hunts in the still of the mornThis is my life and what I taught my children and grandchildren. My pity to those that do not see what is directly in front of them.

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from Jim Kiser wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I just caught on Fox news that the Marines are starting up a program in which Marines are trained in hunting and stalking techniques which are then applied in the field to hunt their enemies in combat situations. Shades of Alvin York and Audie Murphy. Most people have lost the 6th sense our ancestors gave us that we call a surival trait.

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from FischerHunts wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave, this is the best forum on the web. Keep up the good work.Funny I just finished a course that address this very problem. Check out the website for Mens Fratenaty.http://www.mensfraternity.com/

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from Gruetz wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I never thought about it too much. I was never would have considered myself a sports athlete. But I did two things in school. I was in track and I ran Cross Country. I was 14 before I started and had finished two years of bow hunting. I hadn't had much success and when Running every weekend in the fall came up I didn't think much about hanging up my bow. But only after it was over did I realize what a sacrifice I made. I do not regret being in a sport. What I regret is that my father sat patiently for three and a half months waiting to take me camping. By the time the season was over there was snow on the ground and we would get one weekend in the woods. Now that my father hung up his bow and I am just getting to it I would easily give up a few weekends of running for a few weekends of hunting. I don't know why our society is set up in such "all or nothing" terms. My coach had us brain washed that if we didn't run five miles two times a day we were worthless because we wouldn't be the best. We weren't anyways and I gave up my bow hunting because of pressure to be the best when I didn't even care about being the best. I just wanted to learn and have fun.

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from SL wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Most of the points already made are good. We should also not forget that young people of today just don't know how to enjoy anything that is as slow paced as hunting, fishing, camping, etc. Everything around them is so fast paced and competitive. From school to after-school activities, to video games, everything is just so dizzyingly fast paced. To get them to sit on a deer stand or on a fishing pier must be close to torture for most of them. The competitive philosophy this country seems to be proud of has backfired on us in this case. In general hunting and fishing isn't very competitive, thus interest in it by the young is dying. Has anyone also noticed how the hunting that does exist in this country has become MORE competitive with the trophy antler craze and the tournament fishing? It seems like the younger people who do happen to get involved with things like hunting and fishing are doing so for the competitive aspects more than for the sheer enjoyment of nature and the outdoors. It is sad and won't be getting any better.

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from Mike in Kansas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I remember my sophmore year in high school. I was in my 4th year of wrestling and my dad had planned on our usual opening weekend deer hunt. I told my coach that I would be missing 2 days of practice to go hunting and he went all nutty on me. I told him that between sports and hunting....hunting wins hands down. That turned out to be my last day of practice and the last day I wrestled. I went on my deer hunt and brought home a real nice buck. To me, sports is just something to do to stay busy but hunting and fishing is what my life revolves around besides my son...and he loves the outdoors just as much as I do.

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from Beekeeper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I grew up in a rural area in the south on a small family farm. Sports provided recreation. We would gater for community ball games, football, baseball, softball and basketball. This was in the late 60's and early seventies. Remarkably for the times the teams tended to be of mixed race, farm hands and farm boys. We never thought anything about it. We were all friends...I got pretty good at football and baseball. Played on the high school teams. Baseball sort of won out and I began to play on the summer traveling teams. I was never pushed, only encouraged by my Dad. This schedule still fit our life style. I still hunted and fished and did my chores on the farm. That was what was required of me, no excuses. Both my mother and father shed great influence on my life. Both backed each other up.About the time I began to play ball in Junior College I realized it was a business. The school made a great deal of money from the games. Athletes got off on an easy class schedule (we still had to make grades); however, the rigorous practice and game schedule necessitated the lax class schedule. We played baseball fall, winter and spring. Girls threw themselves at us just to be seen with a ballplayer. (When I quite playing the same girls wouldn't give me the time of day).Through all of this there were a number of guys on the team that loved to fish and hunt. We would sneak away and make time to do what we loved so much, usually fishing from the river bank at night. It was part of our being. We also had some pretty good bull sessions over the fried catfish! We also kept firearms in our dorm room closets (try that now).As ball players, we were pushed more and more by the folks who would make money off of us. I was never good enough to be professional and I began to hate what I once loved so much. I soon realized I needed an education more than I needed baseball. I began to add up course credit hours an came to the conclusion that I would fall short on my "free" education. At the time it took 15 quarter hours each quarter to graduate on time. As athletes we were allowed to take only 10 hours for Winter and Spring Quarters. I talked with my parents, who really couldn't afford to send me to college at the time and I decided I would continue to play until my eligibility ran out (probably a smart financial move). All the while I saw how money drove the system. When my eligibility ran out, after a championship for the school, I was kicked to the curb, so to speak. I came back and finished my degree in less than a year then set out in the world.When kids came along, so did sports, football, baseball and soccer (I still think soccer is a communist plot to take over the world). I began to see the old trappings again. It is amazing how much revenue a little league program generates for a local recreation department. A a rec department supervisor once told me, "we could not operate without money from youth sports." The same guys, or guys like them who would make money off the kids ability began to circle like sharkes. Pushing the kids into summer leagues and traveling teams, all generating revenue for someone else. Ball park parents with their foul mouths and pushy, critical attitudes soon got on my nerves. My son was also uncomfortable with the surroundings. He liked the quite of the woods and streams. In short, he hung it up after he found out I wouldn't be mad if he quit. He was playing as much for me as he was for himself. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was being pushed along by my past.He went on to earn his own scholarship with the books. He enjoys hunting, shooting and fishing and is quite the conservative voice amoung his college friends!As I work with youth as a part of my job; I see parents become trapped by sports. It costs a fortune to go to college now days. If a kid is good and there is a glimmer of hope for a scholarship the parents pour everything into the chase. This fervor will increase as our standard of life continues to fall and sports figures continue to be held up as heros by the popular media, similar to the gladiators of ancient Rome. Look at what that got them...

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from 3kidsdad wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun - pellet rifle - serious enough so its not a toy, gentle enough to do in the back yard.Sports - IF the kid's got a passion for it, I fully support whatever they want to do, and put my hobbies second. But its about the kid, not the parent. Get real, people. The odds are that 1 in 15,000 will make it in pro sports. (I know its true, I heard it on the radio) Make sure your kid can think, has enough education to allow job options (MATH, SCIENCE, HISTORY, LANGUAGE, COMPUTER SKILLS), and then be cognizant of the FACT that every moment you are around your child you ARE TEACHING THEM SOMETHING! Time in the boat or time in the woods is about the only undistracted time we have left. This is when you have a chance to teach, discuss, and DEMONSTRATE character, honor and ethics. With all the emphasis being placed on the environment, sportsmen have a wonderful opportunity to have real-world discussions of how life really works.I surrender the soapbox.

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from Scott wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Great thread, Dave! I was fortunate enough to grow up in a remote part of our county in Southern Illinois during the sixties and early seventies. We had a 1/4 mile long driveway (which I had to mow with a push mower). But that driveway led down to the road which led to the river. I should say that's where I really grew up. Yeah, we had little league in the summer and basketball in the fall during school, but most every day, me and my brother were out fishing or just poking around the river. I feel sorry for kids today who will never have that experience. It's up to the dads and moms today to get control of their school systems. To let them know how much is too much. I fear they've got a long row to hoe.

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from Trae B. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Its kinda off topic but Field@Stream must be rubbing off on me. I just walked around the woods today and picked up trash. By the way We only go to the beach and stuff once a year and thats to fish. I still count as a youth, but I am turning 17 on the 31st.

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from SD Bob wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Now that a college education cost almost as much as a house, athletics is the "easy" way to pay for it. I played hockey, baseball, football and golf as a kid. I opted to run a trapline my junior year of high school versus playing hockey and my dad responded by driving me to the fur buyer 3 times that year versus having to wake up at 4:30am every day to take me to practice.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

My kid that I have written about in the past was allowed to make choices regarding sports of all kinds. He never excelled at basketball, was better than average wide receiver, and a fantastic second baseman, shortstop, or center fielder. Remarkable abilities on skis or snowboard as well as terrifyingly good on a skateboard or MX bike. More recently in his life he took up trapshooting and has won every tourniment that he shot in until he broke his elbow on the skateboard. His passion is dirtbikes and now rides/races a '08 YZ450F slightly modified. He has always fished and somehow is better than me. He only discovered girls in the last year or so but they have to meet his standards or he dumps them and moves on. His absolute favorite activity is big game hunting, long range rifle shooting, camping (tents 20 miles from pavement, not in a trailor) and of course the horses in the mountains. Luckily we can tie the last four into the time frame called deer and elk season in Wyoming or Montana. The point of all this rambling is that given choices and opportunities your kid might become a more enthusiastic and capable outdoorsman than you. As Dave and others so astutely pointed out some, maybe most, kids are not given that chance by their parents. I believe that my kid is developing outdoors skills that he will enjoy for a lifetime. He can still play baseball, tennis, or swim in the summer when he is not shooting the .22-.250 or 7 mm x 404 accurately at ranges you would think I was lying about if I said another word.

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from Dylan wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I am a teenager and now that I've grown up a little I am so thankful to my parents for not pushing me into year-round sports. My Dad has always taken me fishing when ever I wanted to and I got into hunting not to long ago. If I would have been pushed into sports when I was little there is no way I would have this much time for outdoor things which I think is very important.

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from coach ike wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

dear dave,why are sports so out of control? well i will tell you from a COACHING standpoint. parents are the root of all evil unfortunately.. when kids and parents see athletes go pro right out of high school, what do parents automatically think? maybe my son is good enough. and most times they are not..... but dont try to convince the parents of that because you are the coach and know nothing ( just a hint of sarcasm!) half the time kids just play a sport because they enjoy it and nothing more. and because the competitve level gets so fierce, it starts at lower level each year....middle school, elementary school and recreation. and instead of playing a sport like soccer only in the fall, now they play the same sport year round because parents ACTUALLY think that if my son specializes in one sport it will make him better! what happened to playing one sport for that season and doing other non related sports like fishing and campimg, or hunting? it doesnot exist because all parents and kids see is the big money a player like KOBE BRYANT who went pro right out of high school is making. nobody from a professional standpoint tells the parents or the kids the committment that is involved when it comes to thinking professional

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Growing up in rural America ranch country my only pastimes were hunting fishing and camping either alone or with my best friend who was my father. In those wonderful days good hunters were looked up to and indeed envied. Now, after spending 62 of my 70 years hunting around the world I'm a dinosaur. Urbanization, televisionization, and feminization have aided and abetted this condition and I fear it is malignantly irreversible.Most folks have moved to the city to earn a living. I plead guilty to this temptation, I did so that I could afford to hunt around the world. This environment lacks daily exposure to the outdoors and constant television exposure to rich famous super athletes along with daily bombardment of school sports gives hunting little chance to compete for childrens attention in cities.My son hunted and camped with me while young, but his peers had no interest. When he reached the age when girls became important his interest in hunting wained somewhat. Living in Los Angeles, the heartland of liberalism, hunting is looked upon as an evil pastime by most young ladies, they wanted athletes. He still intermitently hunts deer, elk, and accompanied me to Africa a couple of times. My grandson and I camp out in the backyard which he enjoys. I planned an African safari for his tenth birthday which he was looking forward to, but his mother (son's ex wife) by court order refused to let him go.These are just a few examples why I feel the deck is stacked against us. But I'm not ready to fold them yet.reached the age when girls became important

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from CB wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Aren't we missing the basic question here? What about the kid? What does he/she really want to do? My son wants to do it all, he hasn't found a sport or activity that doesn't interest him so far. I think as parents the best thing we can do for kids is give them a chance to try the things they want to and let them figure out what they really like best. Sports and hunting/fishing don't need to be mutually exclusive.

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from Jackson Landers wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

The problem is bigger than just hunting. People aren't raising free range kids anymore. They're brought up inside of what amount to hermetically sealed environments in which every moment is carefully scheduled and choreographed months in advance.Personally, I'm rebelling. My daughter takes swimming lessons or ballet or whatever she wants, but only one thing at a time. And nothing that sucks up weekends, which I insist be spent playing in the woods, making mud pies in the front yard or farting around with scrap wood in the workshop.

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from Dartwick wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

It often seems to make sense in the specifics - why a family is traveling around for youth sports. But as a whole our socieity has made a mistake in making this reasonable.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

JCB,I know what you mean about the heck with athletics. My son and daughter got an education. Both went to Universities on scholarships. She is a teacher, he is a Chemical Engineer. He was offered a scholarship to Law school. Most HS jocks can only dream about his 6 figure income by age 27.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun?Get a pellet gun first. They are more accurate than bb guns. Use it to teach safety and the basics of marksmanship. Next a 20 ga. youth model shotgun. If price is ok go with an over and under and teach to keep it broke open until just before shooting. A .22 (or centerfire) has a range of 1 mile (or more) and as such is IMO dangerous for a kid. The 410 was my first gun and I would not wish one on any kid. The shot charge is so small it will result in much frustration at missed targets. Also 410 ammo is much more expensive than 20 guage ammo. The 20 is a very good compromise between the 12 and 410 guages.

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from Dan R. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Thanks for the advice guys. Tom, I hadn't thought about what the kick from a .410 would be like for a kid. As an adult, I guess I consider it negligible, but now that you mention it, a .410 as a starter might indeed cause her to flinch or fear shooting altogether. I am definitely going the BB/pellet rifle route - that's how I learned - but I was thinking beyond that. You make a good argument for progressing from the BB gun to the .22, then to the .410 and beyond. Thanks again.

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dan R,You can start her out on a BB or Pellet rifle to get the basics down and start strengthening the muscles in her arms up a bit. Then move her up to a .22LR. They make a small youth sized rifle called a Cricket that you can get her on that does not weigh a lot and is small and compact for a young child. Plus they come in all different colored stocks.http://www.crickett.com/TheStore/Rifles/rifles.html Once she has grown a bit more and gained some self confidence I would start her on the 410 gauge. If you start her on the 410 right away the kick from it may scare her away from it or delevope bad habbits like flinching, anticipating the shot, closing her eyes and jerking the trigger.Tom the Troll

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from KJ wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Thanks, Dave, and I agree 100%. Around here kids in the traveling baseball league will play 60-70 games by July 1. Parents are taking their kids to games every night of the week, and on the weekends. In this house my kids know the rule - they can play whatever sports they want, but Sunday we are in church, and we will have a family night every week. It's worked for us. Now, my son and I are going after some channel cats tonight, and I need to get a couple of things done around here before we go...

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from Ben in Bama wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun? Why not a single shot BB/pellet gun. Less dangerous than the 22 or 410, also quieter so the neighbors don't call the cops, and you can still instill gun safety/etiquette. Nothing like the old Red Ryder to instill the basics.Just my 2 cents...

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from pd wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun? I vote .22.

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from pd wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I hear you David-I love organized sports. Sports have always been something my dad and I connected over (more little league baseball & UGA football than anything else), but hunting was ALWAYS better. Maybe that was because I wasn't any good at hitting a baseball, or maybe it was because hunting is just more fun. My son isn't old enough to worry about the traveling teams, so I can't speak from experience, but going out of town 15 weekends a year to watch some youth tournament sounds like torture--even if my son is on the field. Whatever happened to seasons--baseball season, football, etc.?

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Hate to be the spoiler, but the problem doesn't lie in the sports, but in the manner they are used and taught, just like a gun is the problem but the user. I grew up playing sports and have very fond memories of tossing the ball or shooting hoops with my dad. In fact many important lessons and conversations of life happened over just such occassions and even at 28 years old, these occassions still occur. I was taught many lessons through sports, such as how to compete, how to do so with honor, and integrity; that how you play the game is more important than winning, etc. All of this translates nicely to life application. I in fact had a coach tell our team after an important loss that "guys you played your best, did what was asked of you and lost. The fact that we lost is not what is important, but the fact that you did what you were supposed to do is". See the problem lies in the parents who are living through their children, who are not putting limitations on the time spent in organized activities, and who are not broadening their children's perspectives to the vast world beyond sports. See I also grew up hunting and fishing and just as much as I continue to enjoy sports today, I enjoy spending weekends at the deer lease or fishing tanks. So before bashing sports unequivocally, consider that the problem lies in the parents and instructors more than with the games themselves.

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from jstreet wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

It's a societal shift that's been going on since Mom went to work, the divorce rate soared and political correctness took over.Throw in lack of access to hunting grounds and you have what we have today. Non hunters growing by leaps and bounds.My son (who is 10) is the only kid in his inner circle of friends that has ever shot a .22 rifle. And no his friends parents won't let them accompany us to the range. I've asked.Jim

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from Dan R. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Thanks for the post, Dave. I have been struggling with that issue myself. As the father of a 4-year-old girl, I watched her play tee ball for the first time this year, with lukewarm enthusiasm. The other day, my wife's cousin and I went to shoot trap, and took my daughter along. You would've thought we had just given her a free pass to heaven! She was ecstatic. I'm already softening up the wife to let me get her a .410. Which brings me to a question: Guys, what are your thoughts on a .410 vs. a .22 for a kid's first gun? I was thinking the limited range of the .410 might make it a safer option while she learns to handle the gun responsibly. I got her a toy gun the other day, just to get her used to gun etiquette.

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from SilverArrow wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

There have always been choices to make if parents have wanted to take kids hunting, fishing, scouting, etc. Yes some of the pressures to stay in sports programs have increased even when the kids themselves are not enjoying it anymore -- college cost money is really sweet.As Parents we have the responsibility to help our kids make choices which are healthy for them.SA

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from jack wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Amen, David (and Dr. Ralph and Chad),There seems to be a large segment of American parents who have bought into the lie that their children must be engaged, non-stop, in some organized sporting activity.The engagement in this pursuit is usually led by the "Soccer Mom", with Dad (if there is one) showing up later to watch, if he can. It is pathetic and disgraceful. The children end up being raised and led by a feminine role model, filled with silly ideas like:"You're the best."(Odds are you are not.)"You can be anything you want."(Really? Can I be a billioinaire?)"That was great, sweetie."(Actually, it sucked, but hearing that would hurt your feelings.)"Come on now everybody - group hug!"(good grief)The result: a bunch of feminized, emasculated boys who grow up to be feminized, emasculated men - wandering aimlessly and lacking leadership of their lives. Basic survival skills: hugging and sharing feelings.Put a man like this into any dangerous or difficult situation, he will likely whine, wet his pants or die.Where lies the fault? - with the men - and only the men can fix it.I have more - but the world is calling.

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from JCB wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

"Since when did watching a kid play a game become more important than actually doing something with him or her?"Every baby born should come with a sticker attached with this quote on it. My sons were not high school jocks. They were tought that high school was there to learn math, reading, writing,....ect. Those are the skills that will get you ahead in life. The whole high school sports lie has been over sold as a way to go to college and make money as a pro. Only a micro percentage of kids become professional sports stars.Both my sons were honors students, graduated college, and were offered jobs before they graduated. Yes they still hunt, fish, and shoot with me. Because dad always took the time to do things with them. It is a bond that you can not buy. It can only me made

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I'm right there with you, Mark. Ultimately I think organized, year-round youth sports is going to be about as practical as a sixty-mile daily commute in your pimped-out Escalade...Or, for that matter, pulling the 21-foot, 225-horse bass boat behind said Escalade...That's why I'm shopping for kayaks right now...

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I agree nothing feels better then spending a day or two with your kids out in the woods, or on the river or lakes. My wife and I before we had children would love to go canoing in the summer. We would always the longest of the days trips we could that we were out on the water before the drunks and partiers and would leave then behind by early afternoon after we passed their shorter trip pickup points. For the rest of the afternoon it was peace and quite only interrupted by the occasional thump of the canoe paddle. Now that my two boys are able to sit for longer periods and we can find life vests that fit them they have joined us on several trips this year so far. And what is nice about it is that we can point to and explain what we see. From Deer, raccoons, Bald Eagles and so forth. And nothing beats showing them a huge trout swimming beside you as you glide along. We have a weekend canoe/camping trip planned for next month were we will be paddling for 3 days.Tom the Troll

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

What a perfect example to illustrate what I'm talking about...Just saw a wire story about Rudy Guiliani's son suing Duke Unversity because...wait for it...wait for it...He got cut from the golf team and it's interfering with his chances of becoming a professional golfer!Which just proves a theory of mine that if the dad is a tool, it generally follows the son will be an equal or bigger tool.And sports, when you parse it down to its basic level, is simply an accelerant for the process. Sort of a growth medium for arsehole development...

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

IMHO these Kid’s Sports have indeed gotten out of hand. I believe the whole area is a fad….and very pricy fad. But like all fads; it too will fall and be forgotten. I have a feeling travel costs are going to kill the extra-regionalism of these games.The-Other-Side-Of-The-Coin:However, since most the population is urban…and I suspect will become more urban…I don’t know how hunting access will be an issue if a person must travel 40-miles to a hunting areaWith the price of gas Hunting Areas could be a scene out of “I Am Legend”.Hoarding gas and ammo, planted extra rows of corn, beans, and potatoes. Keeping my horses. :-)

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

This is exactly what I've been saying for years and people continue to regard me as some kind of un-American mutant for suggesting that youth sports are absolutely killing the future of hunting and fishing.Call me a fruitcake, but when I look out over a soccer field or a baseball diamond I don't see any of the alleged character-building qualities of organized sports.All I see are a bunch of rude, loudmouthed parents living vicariously through their children and in the process training those children to be just as petulant and self-centered as they are.All those kids would be much better served by spending some time wading around in a creek.But of course most kids don't do things like that any more because most parents are -let's face it- worthless role models who can't be bothered to actually do things with their children, so they use proxies like video games and sports teams to fill the void left by their lack of engagement.I despise organized professional sports and the beer-sodden shallow couch culture it's spawned in most American males. And I hate that this top-down entropy has wormed its way into child-rearing.And I say this as a father whose seven-year-old son plays soccer and baseball but much prefers wading around in a muddy creek.That's because - unlike a lot of dads - I haven't allowed sports to become the epicenter of my son's life. He plays simply because his friends play, and as he gets older and gets more into fishing, hunting, shooting and being out in the woods with me then I expect his interest in sports will wane (it's beginning to happen already).Does that make me a lousy father for not actively encouraging (I call it pushing) my son towards sports?Well, I guess if I want to abdicate my position as a father figure to some bigmouthed ex-jock with a whistle around his neck play-acting Vince Lombardi to a bunch of impressionable little boys, then by the fu#@ed up parameters of modern parenting I'm doing my son a huge disservice.I can live with that.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I can agree with this hypothesis but also believe the root of the problem lies much deeper... Feminizing of U.S. Americans. Women are no longer the subservient parent and now that they in many cases have become the bread winners our whole society is changing. With money comes power and women are pretty much not the hunter gatherers so they see this as an outmoded cruel occupation (unless that "hunting and gathering" occurs at the Super Wally World. Certainly dragging their children into the woods to commit murder is unacceptable even though it has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.Plus where can we hunt now? Fifty years ago there were vast farmlands and many small farms and a culture raised on killing and eating animals. Now the population has moved to Urban areas and get their meat from a nice clean package and don't even want to think about where it came from, who slit its throat, skinned it and did the dirty work for them... they are vultures eating what others have killed for them so they may feel better about themselves. I prefer to be a predator rather than a scavenger...You think these soccer mom's are going to buy rifles for their kids and take them hunting if sports were abolished? I highly doubt it. They can't rough it after becoming spoiled beyond what inhabitants of this world 150 years ago could never have imagined.

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave, I know the feeling. My children are not old enough for sports yet. They are still pretty young. But our day care person has children that participate in sports and music and everything else. This week she will be running the roads of northern Michigan. One daughter is going to Band Camp, the other is playing in softball tournaments, and the son is going to summer camp. So they will be traveling back and forth all week visiting them and dropping them off and picking them back up again and watching the tournaments. Not only does it inconvenience them but it also inconveniences all the people that she does day care for while she is closed. I feel sorry for her own children because they never get any one on one time with their parents. They are always busy watching children or taking them to Sports or Music Concerts and so forth.Tom the Troll

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave, You just addressed a very sore spot with me. My stepson was a very good ballplayer in his youth, and probably still is. One afternoon at the ball field the coach and scout for the town 'select' team stolled up to us and addressing the boy stated "you've been picked for the team" and then looking at me said "what do you think of that". Now remember this team travels and plays all summer. About 65 games. I looked at the boy and by the look on his face I knew he was thinking like me. I politely told them no thanks. I swear I can't describe the look on those guys face. I did explain we camped and fished alot during the summer and sometimes had to skip his weekly ballgame when we're in the Ozarks. I'm sure those guys didn't understand and probably thought I was a bad father.

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from Beekeeper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave I have another quandry for you. We have kids involved in the youth scholastic shooting sports challenge. There is a competition 2-3 weekends a month. The kids are grinding clay and winning college money, but no time left for the field...

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from Ben in Bama wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

David,This is just the tip of the iceberg. Kids these days are growing up with Nature Deficit Disorder...every parent should read "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv. http://www.amazon.com/Last-Child-Woods-Children-Nature-Deficit/dp/156512... off the TV, the video games, the computer, and get outside!Ben

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 37 weeks ago

Sue B.,You didn't answer my question. Are you being precotious

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from Sue B wrote 5 years 37 weeks ago

Jim in MO. just keep trying. I bet there is a woman out there who would love for you to take her out fishing or hunting.

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from Bill in VA wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Hunting is why I don't encourage my son to play football. I'm happy to watch him play basketball in the Winter and Lacrosse in the Spring, but during Fall I want him out hunting with me.

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Sue B.,When is the next Womens cast and Blast? The supermarket/bars hasn't produced no woman to my interest.

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from Sue B wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Kids these days are certainly keeping schedules that are way too booked. It leaves little time for exploring the out of doors with their families or by themselves. There is problem, but I hardly think that the problem is the "feminizing of U.S. Americans" or soccer dads who are "pu$$ywhipped by their spousal units."Come on guys. Just listen to yourselves. If you put half as much energy into taking your sons, daughters, wives, and sisters into the field as you do with ignorant complaints, you would see that there are a lot of women out there who cherish time spent hunting, fishing, and shooting.I recently volunteered at a Women's Cast and Blast. The class was totally booked with eager women who would rather be fishing and shooting than shopping at "Super Wally World."Do the sport and your fellow hunters a favor and keep the women bashing to yourselves.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Put a fishing pole or a .22 rifle in a kid's hands in the right setting at the right time and they are hooked for life! It's in the genes. Works for both boys and girls, at least until they become interested in what is in the other "jeans". LOL

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

The declining number of fishermen and hunters is due partly to the liberals who aim to feminize all males, or at least emasculate them. When you see supposedly heterosexual men with plucked eyebrows, getting pedicures, spending time in the tanning booth, getting botox treatments, and the like, you gotta wonder... What role model is that?I'll also bet that those soccer Dad's who "used to hunt" Kelley refered to are pu$$ywhipped by the spousal unit, as well.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

HEY!!! COOP!!!!"DEAR" SEASON!!! LOL!!Is his wedding anniversary coming up!?Sorry Coop! Just couldn't resist the temptation!Ya just gotta laugh every now and then!Bubba

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

My 8 year old Grandson Alex is counting the days until dear season and driving his family nuts watching the Outdoor Channel. THAT’S MY BOY!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Back in 89 stationed at Eielson AFB I was talking to the Elementary School Special Ed Teacher. She said she is having a hard time trying to get the kids to concentrate. One of the things I told her, one of the best training aids to teach someone to concentrate is shooting sports. She got approval from the School and I contacted Randy Pitney at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and got it all set up. The class really enjoyed themselves and there was not a single safety issue. On the bus back to the Base and the next couple of days, the teacher noticed that the kids where concentrating better than before. The following week there concentration was back as it was before. Too bad we couldn’t come up with a program that would benefit them like this.

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from Joe wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

My brother's doing this with his kids and it's driving me and my dad nuts. We grew up in a shooting family, and he's done very little to expose my nephews to hunting and shooting. He's too busy playing golf while his wife signs the boys up for at least two different sports year round.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave,I got the bug by reading O'connor and Keith when I was a kid. My wife will tell you only the grave will keep me out of the woods. There is no end in sight and no quit hunting in yours truly.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

If you want your kid to hunt and fish with you it's a good idea to never let a nintendo, xbox or whatever game in your house. It will be easier to get him to do his homework and chores too!

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from SilverArrow wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Ok so the link didn't post above.Try again here, then goin' fishing!http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/SA

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from SilverArrow wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I've pasted the link to our New Hampshire Fish and Game Dept website below. There is a wonderful photo of a kid holding a slab-sided black crappie bigger than his face. The caption reads "Parents don't frame pictures of their kids playing video games..."I know that refridgerators across America are festooned with fuzzy focused photos of kids playing football, soccer or baseball but how many of those photos feature a smile like this kid?SAPs. I am heading for the lake with my stepson now!

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Kelley,I genuinely appreciated your post.Chad,I am acutely aware that my children's world view is different than mine, and a part of me feels badly for them, but I suspect my parents felt the same way about me.When my daughter graduates, she hopes to be an elementary school teacher and her goal is in sight. I'm curious to learn what she observes in her classroom.All the best,Ed

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from DJ Stillwater wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Carney says..."At issue is the whacky peudo-centric household where the schedule and budget are overstressed by an inexplicable commitment to a sport which more than likely will not count for anything within the next decade of a child's life."You mean like competitive shooting?

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from Kelley wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Considering that I am a mom and not a hunter, I hope I am not breaking some kind of unwritten rule by posting a comment but my son plays baseball and hunts so this caught my attention. Based on the number of fathers I have met @ the ball park who "used to hunt", I would say organized sports definately plays a role in the decline in youth hunting.Most of my son's friends who hunt were exposed to hunting at a young age because their fathers hunt. We try to allow a balance of organized sports, hunting, fishing, and free time. As I am writing this, he came in and told me he just shot a frog with his bb gun and did the best wheelie ever on his bike. To me, that is as important as anything else.All of that being said, if youth hunting is declining and most of today's parents are not involved in hunting, it is up to hunters to create an interest for today's youth. While it would not be a good idea to hand someone else's kid a gun and take them to the woods with you, there are things you can do that will hopefully lead to them having an interest in the sport. When your kid has a friend over, talk about how much fun you and your kid have had hunting, frame pictures of their first buck, let your kid have their first buck mounted and hang it in their room, send a picture to the local paper when your kid kills a deer, offer to take them fishing for the afternoon. If none of this works and your kids friends never become interested, no harm done. But you never know, they could become interested enough that they will one day ask you to go hunting with them and their kids.

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Edward, loved your post. My wife is a high school teacher and her observations of her students, and kids in general, mesh with yours.

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

In a single generation, it seems the recreational possibilities and priorities have changed. My son is 17 and I see a portion of his time consumed by electronic games. On weekends, we go to a nearby rifle & pistol range together on a Saturday or Sunday. In summer, we occasionally scuba dive together. If we didn't have these priorities and that time together, he'd be glued to a computer monitor or electronic device...and I find that unacceptable; it's bubblegum for the mind, non-nutritive exercise for a small portion of the brain. Before X-Box and computer games, there existed an activity called "recreational reading", and there's precious little of that today. His peers who devote a great deal of their time to these games have little to show for it, and develop an odd perspective that mingles these games with a distorted reality. I've observed an inability or failure to develop social skills that seems to limit these kids' ability to interact intelligently with others who don't share that priority (other students, adults and teachers in their lives). They observe well, but they form opinions poorly and have difficulty developing those opinions in conversation. They're well versed on the games and a few can disassemble & reassemble a computer in the time it takes me to field-strip a firearm, which is a marvel to me, but their social skills are undeveloped. Impact on academic performance seems to vary with the individual student, but I see no enhancement and occasional detriment. My son is active in la crosse and is good physical condition, but some of his friends (I've known some of these kids for 10+ years) are couch potatoes, shaped like light bulbs at a time when their metabolism should permit them to burn it off with regular exercise. Some of these kids are going to encounter difficulties in the years ahead. I should add, as a common thread, all of the kids (girls and boys) that come to mind have uninvolved fathers.As for team sports, I agree that some of the parents should be discouraged from attending the games. I've seen a few baseball & football coaches that couldn't control their language or their competitive attitudes. On the contrary, I'm usually impressed by their dedication to the kids and grateful for their commitment. They are, for the most part, fine human beings and my children have benefitted from baseball and soccer.I think kids (and adults) need to understand the concept of teamwork and extend those lessons to the society they hope to join.I think the balance in recreational priorities for some kids has shifted from outdoor to indoor activities because it's convenient to permit it. As one parent commented, "At least I know where he is." When I was my son's age, my friends and I planned camping and hunting trips well in advance. That longer-term planning and organization seems inconsistent with many of today's kids. My son is "busier" than I was at his age, but seems to flit from one commitment or activity to another. I involve him in the planning for our scuba dives, for the choice and accessorization of his shooting equipment and field clothing, in as many activities as I can, but he's not inclined to spend hours (as I was) poring over books, maps, magazines and catalogues. The concept of delayed gratification seems more difficult for kids to accept, and that's a loss.He was required to save for his Ruger 10/22 autoloader, and he did, but he didn't seem to get as much satisfaction out of it as I. We use our shooting equipment regularly, and we set time aside to clean them together. It's one of our best opportunities to discuss things.My daughter is 22 and a student at a university about 50 miles away. She remembers her first shooting experiences with a .22 bolt action when she was 8 or 9 years old, though she's not active as a shooter now. Those are good memories for both of us.I'd guess most of the contributors to this blog are men, and (from what I've already read in preceding posts) I don't think it's necessary to ask you to set one-on-one time aside for each of your kids. They grow too quickly.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

P.S.Both my "Cowboys" are "Cowgirls"!They are both in law enforcement!They both hunt!Bubba

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Someone above posted about a coach with a whistle around his neck, screaming at a kid in a fit of rage that had the spit flying.Some coaches are like that, but you don't have to live with the coach. My problem is with the parents who follow the same routine.My children were allowed to make sports decisions on their own. One played a season of T-ball and loved it. But one season was enough for her. The other decided to play T-ball. After the first practice, she was through with it. She just didn't like it. They both rodeo'd through HS. The oldest even got a scholarship for her abilities.I say expose them to all sports, but let THEM make the decision as to what they want to do.Unless there is a drug, alcohol or behavior problem; just let 'em be kids!Bubba

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from Carney wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

A few of these posts are getting testy!If you go back to Dave's post he qualifies his statement by saying, "I don't mean normal youth sports like..." At issue is the whacky pedo-centric household where the schedule and budget are over stressed by an inexplicible commitment to a sport which more than likely will not count for anything within the next decade of the child's life. The character development; physical fitness; mental acuity; etc., etc. could have been gained for the child with a fraction of the involvement and expenditure of time and resources.I fear the real truth is that some parents wouldn't know what their parenting role was if it didn't include this kind of sports freneticism.

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from DJ Stillwater wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

OK Dave now I get it...If you dedicate your kids free time to sports like baseball, football, or soccer, that's a no-no, but if they're out on a trap, skeet field, or rifle range every day shooting hundreds of rounds of ammo and getting their picture in F & S that's just fine and dandy. No overbearing parents with folding chairs in THEIR world right Dave?Hypocrite

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from ShowMe2 wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave,With all due respect, I think you're making a big deal about nothing.It's really about kids making their own choices whether it's organized sports or outdoor stuff like hunting and fishing.I raised 2 boys who were good enough to receive athletic scholarships to attend college. They were both good students as well.I was an avid hunter, NRA Firearms Instructor and competitive skeet shooter. Although exposed to all these activities at one time or another in their lives, they expressed little or no interest in any of them, opting for the organized sports route, which was fine with me.The reality is, for a lot of reasons mentioned in a variety of the e-mails, kids just aren't as interested in firearms/hunting and the outdoors sports in general as they used to be.I think it's called social evolution. Get over it.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I think it's a tree-hugger thing."If I keep Johnny/Jane busy with (insert appropriate sport), they won't have time for hunting/fishing/camping."I played HS football, I wasn't any good at the others. Unless my team advanced to the playoffs (my junior year), the high school season ended before deer season started. Basketball started soon thereafter, but most of the games and tournaments were on weekdays. We didn't have a spring turkey season so baseball was a no brainer. I love, and still do, baseball! I just couldn't/can't hit, pitch, run or throw! And I'll guarantee you, the World Series WILL NEVER interrupt my hunting season.My biggest problem was squeezing dove hunting between two-a-day work outs in September!Bubba

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from DavidS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

well, i for one will not be a part of that scenario. my kids will play normal school sport, of course. but i wont even drive out of state for a nascar race, so i cant ever see doing it for some sports team and a trophy. especially now, with the price of fuel! now, i do take the kids shooting. not every weekend, but at least once a month. i go more often than that, partly because when i take the kids, there isnt much time for me to shoot, and, i really like to shoot. plus, i want them to develop other interests as well. when they grow up, i want them to decide what they do or dont like in life. if they like the stuff their old man does, great! but if they dont, at least they can have some real life experiences to draw from to help them with their decisions. not just somebody's opinions.

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from Mike Reeder wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I do think team sports can be overdone, especially if it's the parent doing the pushing. On the other hand, I think a lot of the suburban kids playing soccer would just be inside playing video games, not hunting, if they weren't on the playing field. We mostly lived in rural areas where just about all the boys on the various sports teams hunted at least a little, and some hunted a lot. My own boy was a helluva high school pitcher and played youth baseball, but I made a point to never push it. One of his best buddies played fall baseball and was constantly ferried by his dad from camp to camp, but my son lived to hunt and fish and as much as he loved the game he preferred the outdoors more. He ended up going to college on a baseball scholarship, and got a degree in wildlife mgt. The kid who played fall ball is now pitching for the Pittsburg Pirates and making a ton of money, so I guess all that time paid off. On the other hand my son arranges his entire schedule around fishing the flats and the various hunting seasons, and from being around both of them I'd say he's by far the happier of the two kids.

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from ChevJim wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I've raised this point about team sports hogging all of the family's time before. And, yes, it is a killer of outings with Dad, or Mom, or Uncle Joe. Other posters are dead on: youth athletics has been greatly oversold. Less than one tenth of one percent of highschool athletes will ever go pro. Maybe one half of one percent of college athletes will go pro. What's left is the "residue" of kids who got into college as "athletes" but who can't write a coherent sentence or figure out how much change they're due from McDonald's. Our priorities are all wrong. Look at the foreign students in our universities. They did not come to play football, baseball or basketball. They did not come to major in sociology. They came to major in business, engineering and the hard sciences. They do not care about being "popular," but about learning a profession. All Americans seem to think about is sports. To tell you the truth, I don't care very much about watching a bunch of millionaires throw a football around. For me, sports means increasing my personal fitness--not watching someone else increase his or hers. I personally couldn't care less if the NFL, NBA and MLB all disappeared into oblivion overnight. I'd rather be in a deer stand than a grandstand any day of the week. Kudos to all who sent the youth athletics "talent scouts" packing. Those hunting and fishing trips with Dad will mean a lot more than those ball games with all of the screaming parents. By the way, sports do not build character--they simply reveal it.

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from jamesti wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

how is it that i used to be able to play football, hockey and baseball in a single year and still have enough time to go hunting all i wanted? what has changed so much? is it the selfishness of parents or just the laziness?

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

One of the young men I mentor, (Why We Finally Stop Hunting) is kept extremely busy by his family. They mostly attend rodeos throughout the state. The other is connected to a "horse" sport for which his parents train horses for and can be quite time consuming! Especially weekends!Our small, country church is known locally as "Cowboy Church" because of the number of past PRCA cowboys as members. Most of them (the PRCA guys) are very dynamic personalities and are very personable.This fall, the first hunting season I will go through with them, will tell me which is actually interested in hunting! Hopefully, both!Time will tell!Bubba

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from Michael wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave,My son played little league baseball and football. He quit playing football after the 8th grade and stayed with baseball through high school. His reason? He said he never had a baseball coach get in his face yelling so hard that spit hit him. I agreed. He will tell you today that the memories of playing and the friendships he made during that time are priceless. He will also tell you the memories of our hunting, fishing, and camping trips are also priceless. One of his teammates spent every summer vacation with his parents at the college world series and played baseball year round. By the 10th grade, the kid was sick of baseball and his parents (who were certain that he would get a college scholarship and play pro; neither of which happened) There is the answer - parents today think their kids will all become pro players and millionaires. As a retired teacher, I can tell you most of the problems with students today in school can be attributed to the parents. It is sad.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Youth sports do take kids out of hunting -- to say nothing of how they take them out of church!Everybody misses the opportunity to gather with likeminded believers to worship God and be encouraged by His Word once in a while -- but families have allowed their kids' sports to derail the whole focus of their spiritual lives!

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from Rusty In Missouri wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

HunterBy Rusty In MissouriThe cold predawn light casts gray shadows on the groundFrigid air breathed with ease frost on the beardThe crunch of leaves under the hunters feetAt peace with the world the carnivore huntsEasy and purposeful treading alongEyes constantly scan the woods and glensAn essential evil the carnivore cravesA primeval hunter in modern formBody and mind steadfast in the questPity to contemporary shy too the taskOthers shall make the kill for themRemoved and sanitary wrapped and deliveredMissing the sweet sad thrill of the killThe blood of the butcher upon your handsAlive and closer than ever to deathThe carnivore hunts in the still of the mornThis is my life and what I taught my children and grandchildren. My pity to those that do not see what is directly in front of them.

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from Jim Kiser wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I just caught on Fox news that the Marines are starting up a program in which Marines are trained in hunting and stalking techniques which are then applied in the field to hunt their enemies in combat situations. Shades of Alvin York and Audie Murphy. Most people have lost the 6th sense our ancestors gave us that we call a surival trait.

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from FischerHunts wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave, this is the best forum on the web. Keep up the good work.Funny I just finished a course that address this very problem. Check out the website for Mens Fratenaty.http://www.mensfraternity.com/

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from Gruetz wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I never thought about it too much. I was never would have considered myself a sports athlete. But I did two things in school. I was in track and I ran Cross Country. I was 14 before I started and had finished two years of bow hunting. I hadn't had much success and when Running every weekend in the fall came up I didn't think much about hanging up my bow. But only after it was over did I realize what a sacrifice I made. I do not regret being in a sport. What I regret is that my father sat patiently for three and a half months waiting to take me camping. By the time the season was over there was snow on the ground and we would get one weekend in the woods. Now that my father hung up his bow and I am just getting to it I would easily give up a few weekends of running for a few weekends of hunting. I don't know why our society is set up in such "all or nothing" terms. My coach had us brain washed that if we didn't run five miles two times a day we were worthless because we wouldn't be the best. We weren't anyways and I gave up my bow hunting because of pressure to be the best when I didn't even care about being the best. I just wanted to learn and have fun.

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from SL wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Most of the points already made are good. We should also not forget that young people of today just don't know how to enjoy anything that is as slow paced as hunting, fishing, camping, etc. Everything around them is so fast paced and competitive. From school to after-school activities, to video games, everything is just so dizzyingly fast paced. To get them to sit on a deer stand or on a fishing pier must be close to torture for most of them. The competitive philosophy this country seems to be proud of has backfired on us in this case. In general hunting and fishing isn't very competitive, thus interest in it by the young is dying. Has anyone also noticed how the hunting that does exist in this country has become MORE competitive with the trophy antler craze and the tournament fishing? It seems like the younger people who do happen to get involved with things like hunting and fishing are doing so for the competitive aspects more than for the sheer enjoyment of nature and the outdoors. It is sad and won't be getting any better.

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from Mike in Kansas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I remember my sophmore year in high school. I was in my 4th year of wrestling and my dad had planned on our usual opening weekend deer hunt. I told my coach that I would be missing 2 days of practice to go hunting and he went all nutty on me. I told him that between sports and hunting....hunting wins hands down. That turned out to be my last day of practice and the last day I wrestled. I went on my deer hunt and brought home a real nice buck. To me, sports is just something to do to stay busy but hunting and fishing is what my life revolves around besides my son...and he loves the outdoors just as much as I do.

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from Beekeeper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I grew up in a rural area in the south on a small family farm. Sports provided recreation. We would gater for community ball games, football, baseball, softball and basketball. This was in the late 60's and early seventies. Remarkably for the times the teams tended to be of mixed race, farm hands and farm boys. We never thought anything about it. We were all friends...I got pretty good at football and baseball. Played on the high school teams. Baseball sort of won out and I began to play on the summer traveling teams. I was never pushed, only encouraged by my Dad. This schedule still fit our life style. I still hunted and fished and did my chores on the farm. That was what was required of me, no excuses. Both my mother and father shed great influence on my life. Both backed each other up.About the time I began to play ball in Junior College I realized it was a business. The school made a great deal of money from the games. Athletes got off on an easy class schedule (we still had to make grades); however, the rigorous practice and game schedule necessitated the lax class schedule. We played baseball fall, winter and spring. Girls threw themselves at us just to be seen with a ballplayer. (When I quite playing the same girls wouldn't give me the time of day).Through all of this there were a number of guys on the team that loved to fish and hunt. We would sneak away and make time to do what we loved so much, usually fishing from the river bank at night. It was part of our being. We also had some pretty good bull sessions over the fried catfish! We also kept firearms in our dorm room closets (try that now).As ball players, we were pushed more and more by the folks who would make money off of us. I was never good enough to be professional and I began to hate what I once loved so much. I soon realized I needed an education more than I needed baseball. I began to add up course credit hours an came to the conclusion that I would fall short on my "free" education. At the time it took 15 quarter hours each quarter to graduate on time. As athletes we were allowed to take only 10 hours for Winter and Spring Quarters. I talked with my parents, who really couldn't afford to send me to college at the time and I decided I would continue to play until my eligibility ran out (probably a smart financial move). All the while I saw how money drove the system. When my eligibility ran out, after a championship for the school, I was kicked to the curb, so to speak. I came back and finished my degree in less than a year then set out in the world.When kids came along, so did sports, football, baseball and soccer (I still think soccer is a communist plot to take over the world). I began to see the old trappings again. It is amazing how much revenue a little league program generates for a local recreation department. A a rec department supervisor once told me, "we could not operate without money from youth sports." The same guys, or guys like them who would make money off the kids ability began to circle like sharkes. Pushing the kids into summer leagues and traveling teams, all generating revenue for someone else. Ball park parents with their foul mouths and pushy, critical attitudes soon got on my nerves. My son was also uncomfortable with the surroundings. He liked the quite of the woods and streams. In short, he hung it up after he found out I wouldn't be mad if he quit. He was playing as much for me as he was for himself. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was being pushed along by my past.He went on to earn his own scholarship with the books. He enjoys hunting, shooting and fishing and is quite the conservative voice amoung his college friends!As I work with youth as a part of my job; I see parents become trapped by sports. It costs a fortune to go to college now days. If a kid is good and there is a glimmer of hope for a scholarship the parents pour everything into the chase. This fervor will increase as our standard of life continues to fall and sports figures continue to be held up as heros by the popular media, similar to the gladiators of ancient Rome. Look at what that got them...

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from 3kidsdad wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun - pellet rifle - serious enough so its not a toy, gentle enough to do in the back yard.Sports - IF the kid's got a passion for it, I fully support whatever they want to do, and put my hobbies second. But its about the kid, not the parent. Get real, people. The odds are that 1 in 15,000 will make it in pro sports. (I know its true, I heard it on the radio) Make sure your kid can think, has enough education to allow job options (MATH, SCIENCE, HISTORY, LANGUAGE, COMPUTER SKILLS), and then be cognizant of the FACT that every moment you are around your child you ARE TEACHING THEM SOMETHING! Time in the boat or time in the woods is about the only undistracted time we have left. This is when you have a chance to teach, discuss, and DEMONSTRATE character, honor and ethics. With all the emphasis being placed on the environment, sportsmen have a wonderful opportunity to have real-world discussions of how life really works.I surrender the soapbox.

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from Scott wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Great thread, Dave! I was fortunate enough to grow up in a remote part of our county in Southern Illinois during the sixties and early seventies. We had a 1/4 mile long driveway (which I had to mow with a push mower). But that driveway led down to the road which led to the river. I should say that's where I really grew up. Yeah, we had little league in the summer and basketball in the fall during school, but most every day, me and my brother were out fishing or just poking around the river. I feel sorry for kids today who will never have that experience. It's up to the dads and moms today to get control of their school systems. To let them know how much is too much. I fear they've got a long row to hoe.

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from Trae B. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Its kinda off topic but Field@Stream must be rubbing off on me. I just walked around the woods today and picked up trash. By the way We only go to the beach and stuff once a year and thats to fish. I still count as a youth, but I am turning 17 on the 31st.

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from SD Bob wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Now that a college education cost almost as much as a house, athletics is the "easy" way to pay for it. I played hockey, baseball, football and golf as a kid. I opted to run a trapline my junior year of high school versus playing hockey and my dad responded by driving me to the fur buyer 3 times that year versus having to wake up at 4:30am every day to take me to practice.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

My kid that I have written about in the past was allowed to make choices regarding sports of all kinds. He never excelled at basketball, was better than average wide receiver, and a fantastic second baseman, shortstop, or center fielder. Remarkable abilities on skis or snowboard as well as terrifyingly good on a skateboard or MX bike. More recently in his life he took up trapshooting and has won every tourniment that he shot in until he broke his elbow on the skateboard. His passion is dirtbikes and now rides/races a '08 YZ450F slightly modified. He has always fished and somehow is better than me. He only discovered girls in the last year or so but they have to meet his standards or he dumps them and moves on. His absolute favorite activity is big game hunting, long range rifle shooting, camping (tents 20 miles from pavement, not in a trailor) and of course the horses in the mountains. Luckily we can tie the last four into the time frame called deer and elk season in Wyoming or Montana. The point of all this rambling is that given choices and opportunities your kid might become a more enthusiastic and capable outdoorsman than you. As Dave and others so astutely pointed out some, maybe most, kids are not given that chance by their parents. I believe that my kid is developing outdoors skills that he will enjoy for a lifetime. He can still play baseball, tennis, or swim in the summer when he is not shooting the .22-.250 or 7 mm x 404 accurately at ranges you would think I was lying about if I said another word.

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from Dylan wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I am a teenager and now that I've grown up a little I am so thankful to my parents for not pushing me into year-round sports. My Dad has always taken me fishing when ever I wanted to and I got into hunting not to long ago. If I would have been pushed into sports when I was little there is no way I would have this much time for outdoor things which I think is very important.

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from coach ike wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

dear dave,why are sports so out of control? well i will tell you from a COACHING standpoint. parents are the root of all evil unfortunately.. when kids and parents see athletes go pro right out of high school, what do parents automatically think? maybe my son is good enough. and most times they are not..... but dont try to convince the parents of that because you are the coach and know nothing ( just a hint of sarcasm!) half the time kids just play a sport because they enjoy it and nothing more. and because the competitve level gets so fierce, it starts at lower level each year....middle school, elementary school and recreation. and instead of playing a sport like soccer only in the fall, now they play the same sport year round because parents ACTUALLY think that if my son specializes in one sport it will make him better! what happened to playing one sport for that season and doing other non related sports like fishing and campimg, or hunting? it doesnot exist because all parents and kids see is the big money a player like KOBE BRYANT who went pro right out of high school is making. nobody from a professional standpoint tells the parents or the kids the committment that is involved when it comes to thinking professional

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Growing up in rural America ranch country my only pastimes were hunting fishing and camping either alone or with my best friend who was my father. In those wonderful days good hunters were looked up to and indeed envied. Now, after spending 62 of my 70 years hunting around the world I'm a dinosaur. Urbanization, televisionization, and feminization have aided and abetted this condition and I fear it is malignantly irreversible.Most folks have moved to the city to earn a living. I plead guilty to this temptation, I did so that I could afford to hunt around the world. This environment lacks daily exposure to the outdoors and constant television exposure to rich famous super athletes along with daily bombardment of school sports gives hunting little chance to compete for childrens attention in cities.My son hunted and camped with me while young, but his peers had no interest. When he reached the age when girls became important his interest in hunting wained somewhat. Living in Los Angeles, the heartland of liberalism, hunting is looked upon as an evil pastime by most young ladies, they wanted athletes. He still intermitently hunts deer, elk, and accompanied me to Africa a couple of times. My grandson and I camp out in the backyard which he enjoys. I planned an African safari for his tenth birthday which he was looking forward to, but his mother (son's ex wife) by court order refused to let him go.These are just a few examples why I feel the deck is stacked against us. But I'm not ready to fold them yet.reached the age when girls became important

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from CB wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Aren't we missing the basic question here? What about the kid? What does he/she really want to do? My son wants to do it all, he hasn't found a sport or activity that doesn't interest him so far. I think as parents the best thing we can do for kids is give them a chance to try the things they want to and let them figure out what they really like best. Sports and hunting/fishing don't need to be mutually exclusive.

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from Jackson Landers wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

The problem is bigger than just hunting. People aren't raising free range kids anymore. They're brought up inside of what amount to hermetically sealed environments in which every moment is carefully scheduled and choreographed months in advance.Personally, I'm rebelling. My daughter takes swimming lessons or ballet or whatever she wants, but only one thing at a time. And nothing that sucks up weekends, which I insist be spent playing in the woods, making mud pies in the front yard or farting around with scrap wood in the workshop.

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from Dartwick wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

It often seems to make sense in the specifics - why a family is traveling around for youth sports. But as a whole our socieity has made a mistake in making this reasonable.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

JCB,I know what you mean about the heck with athletics. My son and daughter got an education. Both went to Universities on scholarships. She is a teacher, he is a Chemical Engineer. He was offered a scholarship to Law school. Most HS jocks can only dream about his 6 figure income by age 27.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun?Get a pellet gun first. They are more accurate than bb guns. Use it to teach safety and the basics of marksmanship. Next a 20 ga. youth model shotgun. If price is ok go with an over and under and teach to keep it broke open until just before shooting. A .22 (or centerfire) has a range of 1 mile (or more) and as such is IMO dangerous for a kid. The 410 was my first gun and I would not wish one on any kid. The shot charge is so small it will result in much frustration at missed targets. Also 410 ammo is much more expensive than 20 guage ammo. The 20 is a very good compromise between the 12 and 410 guages.

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from Dan R. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Thanks for the advice guys. Tom, I hadn't thought about what the kick from a .410 would be like for a kid. As an adult, I guess I consider it negligible, but now that you mention it, a .410 as a starter might indeed cause her to flinch or fear shooting altogether. I am definitely going the BB/pellet rifle route - that's how I learned - but I was thinking beyond that. You make a good argument for progressing from the BB gun to the .22, then to the .410 and beyond. Thanks again.

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dan R,You can start her out on a BB or Pellet rifle to get the basics down and start strengthening the muscles in her arms up a bit. Then move her up to a .22LR. They make a small youth sized rifle called a Cricket that you can get her on that does not weigh a lot and is small and compact for a young child. Plus they come in all different colored stocks.http://www.crickett.com/TheStore/Rifles/rifles.html Once she has grown a bit more and gained some self confidence I would start her on the 410 gauge. If you start her on the 410 right away the kick from it may scare her away from it or delevope bad habbits like flinching, anticipating the shot, closing her eyes and jerking the trigger.Tom the Troll

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from KJ wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Thanks, Dave, and I agree 100%. Around here kids in the traveling baseball league will play 60-70 games by July 1. Parents are taking their kids to games every night of the week, and on the weekends. In this house my kids know the rule - they can play whatever sports they want, but Sunday we are in church, and we will have a family night every week. It's worked for us. Now, my son and I are going after some channel cats tonight, and I need to get a couple of things done around here before we go...

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from Ben in Bama wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun? Why not a single shot BB/pellet gun. Less dangerous than the 22 or 410, also quieter so the neighbors don't call the cops, and you can still instill gun safety/etiquette. Nothing like the old Red Ryder to instill the basics.Just my 2 cents...

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from pd wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

First gun? I vote .22.

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from pd wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I hear you David-I love organized sports. Sports have always been something my dad and I connected over (more little league baseball & UGA football than anything else), but hunting was ALWAYS better. Maybe that was because I wasn't any good at hitting a baseball, or maybe it was because hunting is just more fun. My son isn't old enough to worry about the traveling teams, so I can't speak from experience, but going out of town 15 weekends a year to watch some youth tournament sounds like torture--even if my son is on the field. Whatever happened to seasons--baseball season, football, etc.?

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Hate to be the spoiler, but the problem doesn't lie in the sports, but in the manner they are used and taught, just like a gun is the problem but the user. I grew up playing sports and have very fond memories of tossing the ball or shooting hoops with my dad. In fact many important lessons and conversations of life happened over just such occassions and even at 28 years old, these occassions still occur. I was taught many lessons through sports, such as how to compete, how to do so with honor, and integrity; that how you play the game is more important than winning, etc. All of this translates nicely to life application. I in fact had a coach tell our team after an important loss that "guys you played your best, did what was asked of you and lost. The fact that we lost is not what is important, but the fact that you did what you were supposed to do is". See the problem lies in the parents who are living through their children, who are not putting limitations on the time spent in organized activities, and who are not broadening their children's perspectives to the vast world beyond sports. See I also grew up hunting and fishing and just as much as I continue to enjoy sports today, I enjoy spending weekends at the deer lease or fishing tanks. So before bashing sports unequivocally, consider that the problem lies in the parents and instructors more than with the games themselves.

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from jstreet wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

It's a societal shift that's been going on since Mom went to work, the divorce rate soared and political correctness took over.Throw in lack of access to hunting grounds and you have what we have today. Non hunters growing by leaps and bounds.My son (who is 10) is the only kid in his inner circle of friends that has ever shot a .22 rifle. And no his friends parents won't let them accompany us to the range. I've asked.Jim

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from Dan R. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Thanks for the post, Dave. I have been struggling with that issue myself. As the father of a 4-year-old girl, I watched her play tee ball for the first time this year, with lukewarm enthusiasm. The other day, my wife's cousin and I went to shoot trap, and took my daughter along. You would've thought we had just given her a free pass to heaven! She was ecstatic. I'm already softening up the wife to let me get her a .410. Which brings me to a question: Guys, what are your thoughts on a .410 vs. a .22 for a kid's first gun? I was thinking the limited range of the .410 might make it a safer option while she learns to handle the gun responsibly. I got her a toy gun the other day, just to get her used to gun etiquette.

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from SilverArrow wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

There have always been choices to make if parents have wanted to take kids hunting, fishing, scouting, etc. Yes some of the pressures to stay in sports programs have increased even when the kids themselves are not enjoying it anymore -- college cost money is really sweet.As Parents we have the responsibility to help our kids make choices which are healthy for them.SA

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from jack wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Amen, David (and Dr. Ralph and Chad),There seems to be a large segment of American parents who have bought into the lie that their children must be engaged, non-stop, in some organized sporting activity.The engagement in this pursuit is usually led by the "Soccer Mom", with Dad (if there is one) showing up later to watch, if he can. It is pathetic and disgraceful. The children end up being raised and led by a feminine role model, filled with silly ideas like:"You're the best."(Odds are you are not.)"You can be anything you want."(Really? Can I be a billioinaire?)"That was great, sweetie."(Actually, it sucked, but hearing that would hurt your feelings.)"Come on now everybody - group hug!"(good grief)The result: a bunch of feminized, emasculated boys who grow up to be feminized, emasculated men - wandering aimlessly and lacking leadership of their lives. Basic survival skills: hugging and sharing feelings.Put a man like this into any dangerous or difficult situation, he will likely whine, wet his pants or die.Where lies the fault? - with the men - and only the men can fix it.I have more - but the world is calling.

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from JCB wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

"Since when did watching a kid play a game become more important than actually doing something with him or her?"Every baby born should come with a sticker attached with this quote on it. My sons were not high school jocks. They were tought that high school was there to learn math, reading, writing,....ect. Those are the skills that will get you ahead in life. The whole high school sports lie has been over sold as a way to go to college and make money as a pro. Only a micro percentage of kids become professional sports stars.Both my sons were honors students, graduated college, and were offered jobs before they graduated. Yes they still hunt, fish, and shoot with me. Because dad always took the time to do things with them. It is a bond that you can not buy. It can only me made

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I'm right there with you, Mark. Ultimately I think organized, year-round youth sports is going to be about as practical as a sixty-mile daily commute in your pimped-out Escalade...Or, for that matter, pulling the 21-foot, 225-horse bass boat behind said Escalade...That's why I'm shopping for kayaks right now...

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I agree nothing feels better then spending a day or two with your kids out in the woods, or on the river or lakes. My wife and I before we had children would love to go canoing in the summer. We would always the longest of the days trips we could that we were out on the water before the drunks and partiers and would leave then behind by early afternoon after we passed their shorter trip pickup points. For the rest of the afternoon it was peace and quite only interrupted by the occasional thump of the canoe paddle. Now that my two boys are able to sit for longer periods and we can find life vests that fit them they have joined us on several trips this year so far. And what is nice about it is that we can point to and explain what we see. From Deer, raccoons, Bald Eagles and so forth. And nothing beats showing them a huge trout swimming beside you as you glide along. We have a weekend canoe/camping trip planned for next month were we will be paddling for 3 days.Tom the Troll

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

What a perfect example to illustrate what I'm talking about...Just saw a wire story about Rudy Guiliani's son suing Duke Unversity because...wait for it...wait for it...He got cut from the golf team and it's interfering with his chances of becoming a professional golfer!Which just proves a theory of mine that if the dad is a tool, it generally follows the son will be an equal or bigger tool.And sports, when you parse it down to its basic level, is simply an accelerant for the process. Sort of a growth medium for arsehole development...

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

IMHO these Kid’s Sports have indeed gotten out of hand. I believe the whole area is a fad….and very pricy fad. But like all fads; it too will fall and be forgotten. I have a feeling travel costs are going to kill the extra-regionalism of these games.The-Other-Side-Of-The-Coin:However, since most the population is urban…and I suspect will become more urban…I don’t know how hunting access will be an issue if a person must travel 40-miles to a hunting areaWith the price of gas Hunting Areas could be a scene out of “I Am Legend”.Hoarding gas and ammo, planted extra rows of corn, beans, and potatoes. Keeping my horses. :-)

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

This is exactly what I've been saying for years and people continue to regard me as some kind of un-American mutant for suggesting that youth sports are absolutely killing the future of hunting and fishing.Call me a fruitcake, but when I look out over a soccer field or a baseball diamond I don't see any of the alleged character-building qualities of organized sports.All I see are a bunch of rude, loudmouthed parents living vicariously through their children and in the process training those children to be just as petulant and self-centered as they are.All those kids would be much better served by spending some time wading around in a creek.But of course most kids don't do things like that any more because most parents are -let's face it- worthless role models who can't be bothered to actually do things with their children, so they use proxies like video games and sports teams to fill the void left by their lack of engagement.I despise organized professional sports and the beer-sodden shallow couch culture it's spawned in most American males. And I hate that this top-down entropy has wormed its way into child-rearing.And I say this as a father whose seven-year-old son plays soccer and baseball but much prefers wading around in a muddy creek.That's because - unlike a lot of dads - I haven't allowed sports to become the epicenter of my son's life. He plays simply because his friends play, and as he gets older and gets more into fishing, hunting, shooting and being out in the woods with me then I expect his interest in sports will wane (it's beginning to happen already).Does that make me a lousy father for not actively encouraging (I call it pushing) my son towards sports?Well, I guess if I want to abdicate my position as a father figure to some bigmouthed ex-jock with a whistle around his neck play-acting Vince Lombardi to a bunch of impressionable little boys, then by the fu#@ed up parameters of modern parenting I'm doing my son a huge disservice.I can live with that.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

I can agree with this hypothesis but also believe the root of the problem lies much deeper... Feminizing of U.S. Americans. Women are no longer the subservient parent and now that they in many cases have become the bread winners our whole society is changing. With money comes power and women are pretty much not the hunter gatherers so they see this as an outmoded cruel occupation (unless that "hunting and gathering" occurs at the Super Wally World. Certainly dragging their children into the woods to commit murder is unacceptable even though it has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.Plus where can we hunt now? Fifty years ago there were vast farmlands and many small farms and a culture raised on killing and eating animals. Now the population has moved to Urban areas and get their meat from a nice clean package and don't even want to think about where it came from, who slit its throat, skinned it and did the dirty work for them... they are vultures eating what others have killed for them so they may feel better about themselves. I prefer to be a predator rather than a scavenger...You think these soccer mom's are going to buy rifles for their kids and take them hunting if sports were abolished? I highly doubt it. They can't rough it after becoming spoiled beyond what inhabitants of this world 150 years ago could never have imagined.

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave, I know the feeling. My children are not old enough for sports yet. They are still pretty young. But our day care person has children that participate in sports and music and everything else. This week she will be running the roads of northern Michigan. One daughter is going to Band Camp, the other is playing in softball tournaments, and the son is going to summer camp. So they will be traveling back and forth all week visiting them and dropping them off and picking them back up again and watching the tournaments. Not only does it inconvenience them but it also inconveniences all the people that she does day care for while she is closed. I feel sorry for her own children because they never get any one on one time with their parents. They are always busy watching children or taking them to Sports or Music Concerts and so forth.Tom the Troll

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave, You just addressed a very sore spot with me. My stepson was a very good ballplayer in his youth, and probably still is. One afternoon at the ball field the coach and scout for the town 'select' team stolled up to us and addressing the boy stated "you've been picked for the team" and then looking at me said "what do you think of that". Now remember this team travels and plays all summer. About 65 games. I looked at the boy and by the look on his face I knew he was thinking like me. I politely told them no thanks. I swear I can't describe the look on those guys face. I did explain we camped and fished alot during the summer and sometimes had to skip his weekly ballgame when we're in the Ozarks. I'm sure those guys didn't understand and probably thought I was a bad father.

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from Beekeeper wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

Dave I have another quandry for you. We have kids involved in the youth scholastic shooting sports challenge. There is a competition 2-3 weekends a month. The kids are grinding clay and winning college money, but no time left for the field...

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from Ben in Bama wrote 5 years 38 weeks ago

David,This is just the tip of the iceberg. Kids these days are growing up with Nature Deficit Disorder...every parent should read "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv. http://www.amazon.com/Last-Child-Woods-Children-Nature-Deficit/dp/156512... off the TV, the video games, the computer, and get outside!Ben

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