There are lessons not taught in any school classroom, lessons only a good parent can provide. Then there are lessons that only the outdoors can teach us.
by Michael M. Dewitt, Jr. | Aug 21, 2020 | BIG GAME, HUNTING
There are lessons out there that aren’t taught in any public school classroom, lessons that only a good parent can provide. And then there are lessons that only time spent outdoors can teach us.
The Ides of August have come and gone, the fellowship of the orange cloth has again taken pursuit of the whitetail, and weary-eyed school children are boarding yellow busses to continue that lifelong journey toward education and enlightenment.
Sure, a parent is supposed to teach a kid how to ride a bike or drive a truck, how to shave or how to mow the lawn. Then there are the important life lessons, lessons in survival and providing for your family, lessons in manners and character and being a decent human being – all lessons that are especially important in today’s uncertain world. There are lessons out there that aren’t taught in any public school classroom, lessons that only a good parent can provide. And then there are lessons that only time spent outdoors can teach us.
As a farm child of the South Carolina Lowcountry, a lifelong outdoorsman and a father of two, I have learned a great many life lessons and tried to pass on as many of them as I could. I have prepared a syllabus of these life lessons and all-around general good advice, in no particular order. Listen up, kids. There will be a quiz afterwards – a test called life.
- Don’t forget to put the plug in the boat.
- Provide as much of your own food as possible. That means teaching your children to hunt, fish or trap as well as plant a garden. This not only teaches them to feed themselves, it also connects us with nature.
- Don’t disrespect Momma.
- The truth is always easier to remember than a lie. If you wish to lie, become a writer or a fisherman.
- Pick up your shotgun shells before you move on. Yes, that is also a metaphor for life.
- Use your manners.
- Take no more from Mother Nature than you need. Think about the next generation.
- Be nice to people you meet – a smile is infectious.
- Clean that gun before you put it away.
- Put the damn phone down, look around at nature, and talk to people.
- Be optimistic. Be patient. This will serve you well in outdoor pursuits and in life.
- Be prepared to do what you have to do to provide for your family. If that means working two or three jobs, so be it. It will help you appreciate your time off with family even more.
- Be as independent as possible. Don’t let someone else do for you what you can do for yourself. There will come a day when you won’t have anyone to rely on.
- Know the proper way to hand someone a knife – handle first.
- Know how to throw a punch, know when to throw a punch, and most importantly, know when not to.
- Take good care of your teeth.
- Open doors for ladies.
- Never go to work outdoors without a pocket knife and a pair of gloves.
- If you cut a tree down, plant another one.
- Spend as much time outdoors as possible. Few living things flourish in darkness or artificial light.
- Clean up your own mess. Imagine what a better, cleaner planet we would inhabit if people, corporations and even nations followed this advice.
- Hate no one, because it is wasted energy. Unless we are talking about coyotes and college football rivals.
- Put things back where you found them, the way you found them.
- If you break something, fix it.
- Do not condone or engage in violence when unprovoked, but spare no violence in self defense.
- Say “sir” to anyone older than you, and “ma’am” to pretty much every lady.
- Know how to change a tire and change your oil. It’s okay to pay someone to do that if you have to, as long as you know how to do it when you need to.
- Don’t kill it if you aren’t going to eat it or it ain’t trying to eat you or yours.
- Stand up to a bully.
- Turn the lights out when no one is in the room.
- Sons: Respect all women. Never hit a girl. Learn to cook and clean for yourself. Daughters: Be independent and know you have just as much value as any man.
- Keep a balanced life and a balanced checkbook. Wait, does this generation even use checkbooks anymore?
- Learn how to tie at least three knots – and one of them better be able to hold a 10pound bass.
- Give a firm handshake and look a man in the eye.
- Keep your word.
- Nothing is more important than family.
- Start saving your money early. Make safe investments.
- A woman is always right, even when she is incorrect.
- A bird dog will, occasionally, lie to you. They are related to fishermen. All you can do is forgive them and love them.
- Gun Safety 101: Keep the safety on. Never load a gun until you are ready to shoot it, never point a gun at something you don’t intend to kill, and keep in mind who and what is behind your intended target.
- If you help bring a kid into the world, take care of it.
- Make your kids sit at the table and eat with you.
- Never urinate on an electric fence.
- Read a book every now and then.
- Laugh it off, even when it hurts.
- Everything tastes better with gravy and hot sauce on it.
- Never catch or kill more than your legal limit.
- Pet a dog every chance you can. It lowers your blood pressure.
- Did I mention checking the boat plug?