Economy, important issues could affect outdoors, nation as a whole

I am getting old and no wonder considering how quickly these years fly by. This is my 22nd year of writing this column and my 22nd new year’s greeting to you.
I want to start by thanking all of you for your support over two decades of outdoor stories.
We are starting a new year with our country in very poor shape. Numerous questionable decisions have caused this quagmire, but that is old news and water under the bridge. Now it is time for positive action.
Our outdoor community supports itself in conservation dollars and generous contributions to organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, The Quality Deer Management Association and other groups that make our very outdoor existence possible.
I urge you to continue contributing to these important organizations, even if your contributions are less than in past years. Certainly every little bit helps.
Tax dollars in this country are being squeezed like never before in most of our lifetimes. You as voters must continue your support to the Missouri Conservation Tax and national taxes like Pittman-Robinson and others.
Many would love to take some or all of these funds.
You, the voting public make it possible to keep these funds in the right hands to make conservation possible.
Those of you who have read my weekly columns over the past several years know that promoting kids in the outdoors is my passion. I have had several thousand stories published in outdoor magazines and newspapers that all started with a simple bluegill fishing trip in the 1950’s with my great grandparents.
They planted the seed that would shape how I make a living.
I can still remember my great grandmother watching her bobber in our small pond. She never wanted to move her bait in fear that a big catfish was ready to take it.
Grandma was raised in a time when a hook or bent nail and a worm dug from the garden meant fish for another meal. I hope the current situation never reverts to those drastic days, but recent unemployment numbers show that anything is possible.
So take those kids fishing, hunting, camping or whatever outdoor activity suits you. Hunting is not for everyone but there are many ways to enjoy the outdoors. Thanks to our past conservation dollars many of these activities are free.
Gun control is another issue we need to pay close attention to in 2009. I want to make it plain that I or most of my outdoor writing peers will never support any kind of crime committed by firearms. We feel the same pain as anyone when a story is released on a school shooting or a family being murdered.
Listen to the news or read periodicals and you will find stories about crimes committed with firearms. Sensationalism, after all, sells copy.
You will never read about a junior skeet shooting champion or a young hunter who successfully took his first buck in the main-stream news.
Yes, there are ruthless, sickening crimes committed with firearms and I pray to God that will someday be stopped.
But there are more gun owners who use firearms for what they were intended than punks who commit crimes.
Contributions to the National Rifle Association should be continued. Agree with them or not, they are the champions of hunters, target shooters, collectors or anyone who owns a gun for home protection. I know most top members of the NRA and they are against crime with firearms too.
Let’s just hope that the new group in Washington will take time to understand the difference between a Model 1100 semi-automatic Remington and a fully automatic weapon. I understand that they lump the classic hunting and target shooting shotguns and rifles in the same category as AK-47s.
Let’s hope they will take time to learn the difference.
This is not the same happy column I usually write on New Years. Hopefully I will be able to write a more positive and uplifting column in 2010.
God bless all of you and have a safe and enjoyable year in the beautiful outdoors.