What would I say to you if this was my last outdoor column? I had a wreck earlier in the fall. I hit black ice in the northbound lane at just over 70 miles per hour, did a 45-degree turn in the highway and bounced across I-29's southbound lane.
I managed not to roll down a big hill and walked away without a scratch. But what if a tractor-trailer had been coming in the southbound lane? I would not be here to write this column. But I am, and who knows, there is always more black ice and this could be my last column. So what shall I say?
Writers love their readers. We share a great deal of ourselves in each story. Most of us will never meet, but we still share affections for the outdoors.
2014 will begin my 27th year of writing this column, and some of you have read it since the first story is a magic time when I still had hair on my head and no belly. That is 52 stories for 26 full years – you do the math. My goal is to provide you with entertaining or informative copy so you will want to read my stories again. But what if this was my last time to chat with you?
I would start by asking you to take a child hunting or fishing. Let them enjoy the same outdoor experiences that have helped you through life. Hunters should start with a Hunter's Education Program, followed by lots of target practice so your young hunter knows his firearm. Fishermen should start with casting practice and then take a child where the fish are biting.
Hunting and fishing has been my release since I was old enough to hold a gun or rod. These beautiful activities helped me through many difficult times in my life. I am certain that modern-day kids peer pressure is more severe than ever before. Kids need a healthy release these days and perhaps more than ever before.
Show a video or watch shows on the outdoor channel with kids, but explain to them that hunting and fishing trips are not always successful. Some fishing productions portray their trip as a fish per cast. We all know that is not always the case.
I would next request that you support conservation: the Missouri Conservation, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the Conservation Federation of your state and non-profit organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever and other groups that all support wildlife habitat.
You don't have to be a hunter or fisherman to support these groups, just someone that loves wildlife. Purchasing a federal duck stamp for $15 each year helps too.
Supporting conservation and introducing kids to the good, clean outdoor experience are my passions. But would you like to introduce your child to hunting or fishing?
Just e-mail me at email@example.com, and I will send you tips on how to accomplish an enjoyable day afield for your children or an adult that simply wants to try outdoor sports.
I will conclude this column by asking you to take a day from work and go outdoors. This may be a walk in the woods with or without firearms, or take a drive to some beautiful spot like Squaw Creek Refuge in northwest Missouri.
I especially like to walk through the woods when it is snowing. The woods are quiet, and a slow walk without noise often turns up wildlife like a variety of birds, squirrels, rabbits, coyote, turkey or deer. Big, fluffy snowflakes cover drab ground cover and create a beautiful scene, and you are the only person on earth that is watching this happen.
This is your slice of Heaven on Earth, if only for a moment. That is what I would tell you if this was my last column to write.
Happy New Year!
Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org