Back to nature in hunting, fishing, gathering and gardening

The trouble with hibernating is that I tend to read a lot and just generally sit around and cogitate about the state of the universe.

A CHILD FISHING is frequently in contact with nature.

A CHILD FISHING is frequently in contact with nature.




The trouble with hibernating is that I tend to read a lot and just generally sit around and cogitate about the state of the universe, especially as it applies to our outdoor activities. Now I also check the condition of my tackle and tie flies on occasion, but these types of distractions just add fuel to the cogitating.

My reading has led me to the book The Nature Principle by Richard Louv which is full of enticing ideas about the importance of nature in the lives of children and others. To this end I offer the following quote from page 252 that was attributed to former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt. In his later years, Roosevelt argued, “That parents had a moral obligation to make sure that their children didn’t suffer from nature deficiency.”

Roosevelt’s emphasis on direct personal experiences in nature was important. Over time this movement led to the great conservation movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries. In the 21st century there tends to be separation in the minds of some people as they see conservationists as hunters and fishers who tend to use natural resources.

Development of the environmentalist philosophy at times seeks to protect nature from people. I respectfully submit that the goals of both groups have much in common and there is too much to do in the coming decades in terms of challenges from climate change to waste energy on minor conflicts of philosophy.

Last week in my column I recounted some of the thoughts of young people as they related to hunting. During my working life I was involved with the development of an environmental education centre (McQueen Lake Environmental Centre in the Kamloops School District). The handbook states the philosophy of the centre as follows: “Probably one of the great challenges facing us today is survival – survival of the human race on this planet. To this end, the single most important thought underlying the philosophy of the McQueen Lake centre is to teach that – ‘man is only a part of the inter connected life systems of this planet.’

“All life is connected through various inter-linking food chains and energy systems that are both visible and invisible. By exposing children of all ages to various ecosystems, both large and small, we may begin to lay the building blocks of a better understanding of our living systems.

“An important aspect of this philosophy is to teach that we are ourselves a part of this environment, and that there is no way we can escape from this fact. Such a philosophy opens the door for us to teach aspects of all disciplines in an outdoor setting – from early primary to college years.

We attempt, by teaching in the environment, to create an ethical approach to the environment so that students will come to understand that man is only one of the species which occupy this earth.”

In the meantime fishing, hunting and gathering adventures are not environmental education programs, but they do bring participants into direct contact with nature in a myriad of forms. They take place in the normal activities of families and groups of people. One of the growing problems of the 21st century for Canadians is that roughly 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban environments with a growing disconnect from nature.

One of the best examples I can think of where children become involved with much more than the business at hand is when you take them to the beach to gather some clams, oysters and so forth. You will soon discover they are far more interested in the little crabs, starfish, little fish under the rocks, old sea shells, big shells, driftwood and just about everything but the task at hand of gathering seafood. Take a child fishing and watch the interest in the worms in the bait bucket as opposed to the uninteresting business of watching a float on the water.

Time spent in nature is important in the developmental process of balanced human beings. Many people would argue it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle.

The Nature Principle – Human Restoration and End of Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv is available in local book stores – $29.95.

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Note from last week – Justin Streeton is 15 years old.

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.