Outdoors With Charlie Chalk

Outdoors Archives

December 26, 2008

Feed the Birds, Keep the Kids Busy

Our feathered friends are often a great outdoor subject.  This time of year, feeders are under attack.  From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), I found some fun facts for kids.  If you’re bracing yourself for a chorus of “I’m bored” from your kids while they’re on winter break, swing into action now with a foolproof plan.  The Wisconsin DNR’s Website has a great online resource for children that will give them easy plans to make pinecone feeders, milk jug feeders, and suet feeders.  Plus, young wildlife students will have fun learning simple tips for identifying birds and what birds like to eat.  There’s even a chart that matches up our feathered friends with their favorite feeder snack.  Build the foundation for a lifetime of nature appreciation by visiting this Website with your youngster today: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/nature/winterbird.htm.

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December 19, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas

It is kind of a tradition for me to publish an outdoors Christmas wish list about this time.  Rather than put out a lot of specifics, I want to just put some ideas out, so if you are looking for a gift you can go to a retailer and ask them to show you what they have.  So, in no specific order, consider: GPS, Personal Locator Beacons (prices are way down), knives, guns, high tech clothing, the latest camouflage clothing, ATV accessories, rods, reels, tackle, boat, motor, and depth finders.  Finally, a personal favorite from the Boone and Crockett Club: a beautiful coffee table book called Hunting the American West.  This book not only features rich historical photography, it also tells the story of just how important big game hunting was to the American West.  Hunting the American West is historically accurate and visually stunning.  The book is 412 pages of knowledge with 125 full color photos and illustrations from the nineteenth century.  Get it online at www.booneandcrockettclub.com or through some of the local big book stores.

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November 28, 2008

Lost Teens Face Rescue Bill

“Four 19-year-olds got lost hiking New Hampshire’s Saddleback Mountain and may get billed for the rescue operation.  The four carried no water, no map, no compass.  But they did have a cell phone.  The group got lost on the hike back down, ended up in a swamp, and called for help at 2:30 in the morning.  Billing will be recommended, given the lack of planning, lack of preparation, and lack of judgment, …” said Fish and Game officer Mike Matson.”  (Union Leader)

I hope you don’t end up like these hikers!  Prepare any time you go out.  You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment for simple hikes.  What you have in your pocket should meet basic needs.  Carry basic fire-making material.  The common childproof butane lighter is way too difficult if you have very cold fingers, so the better quality flameless refillable units are top choice.  The wallet is full of tinder; use a dollar bill if needed.  Have a good pocketknife for gathering wood tinder.  Carry a basic compass to take a bearing, fold up a Mylar rescue blanket, and bring some candy for an energy boost.  That is about all it takes, and it might be enough to get you out of a bad situation.

Finally, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.  Even a note left on the dash of the car, detailing your final plan, could be a starting point for rescue crews in event of the worst case.  Mark the note “Plan” so it can be seen on the dash.

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November 21, 2008

Late Muzzleloading Season

By now many of you have spent many days afield in the deer woods.  I hope your time paid off and your family will feast on venison over the year.  With tags filled, time may come to put up the guns for another year; or maybe not.

Vermont has a late muzzleloading season starting December 5.  The lower half of the state has a good population, with some good bucks showing up frequently.  To be honest, I have seen more deer in Vermont over the past year than many New Hampshire locations (especially in the northern counties).  Tags cost $115, a reasonable fee.  By the way, college students in a Vermont school are considered residents, which cut the fees to $37 if you know any students.

Vermont’s license guide gives good maps of public land and tips on finding accommodations that are hunter-friendly.  Start you search for more info at vtfishandwildlife.com, and maybe we will meet in the woods of Vermont this December.

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November 14, 2008

No-lead Deer?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on human lead levels of hunters in North Dakota has confirmed what hunters throughout the world have known for hundreds of years; that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition poses absolutely no health risk to people, including children, and that the call to ban lead ammunition was and remains a scare tactic being pushed by anti-hunting groups to forward their political agenda.

Today, additional information became available about the CDC study, originally released yesterday, that is important to disseminate to hunters, their families and the general public about the total and complete lack of any evidence of a human health risk from consuming game harvested using traditional ammunition.  For instance, in the study the average lead level of the hunters tested was lower than that of the average American.  To further put in perspective the claims concerning the safety of game harvested using traditional ammunition, consider this statement from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) -”IDPH maintains that if lead in venison were a serious health risk, it would likely have surfaced within extensive blood-lead testing since 1992 with 500,000 youth under 6 and 25,000 adults having been screened.”  It has not. 

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November 7, 2008

New Fish and Game Podcast Brings Outdoors to Your Earbuds

Here is something new for those who like the outdoors but may not get out as often as possible. 

Looking for some New Hampshire outdoor news, talk and information that fits your busy schedule?  Listen up, because New Hampshire Fish and Game’s new free audio podcast, Fish and Game Radio Diner, has the latest on New Hampshire’s great outdoors and recreational opportunities at http://www.wildnh.com/broadcast.  Podcasts are Web-based radio programs that can be played on your computer, or downloaded for listening on an iPod® or other mobile device.

For each episode of Fish and Game Radio Diner, host Judy Stokes, communications director of New Hampshire Fish and Game, sits down for a lively chat with the professionals who work behind the scenes to protect and manage New Hampshire’s fish and wildlife resources.

“Our folks work with fish and wildlife all day long, so they tell some pretty wild stories,” Stokes said.  “They also spend a lot of time in New Hampshire’s outdoors, of course, so they’ve got all the latest info and insights on how things are going in the field.”  Fish and Game Radio Diner podcasts feature seasonal topics ranging from hunting and fishing forecasts; outdoor tips, strategies and places to go;  and wildlife watching opportunities; to the latest news and research from the field, to help outdoor users better plan their time outdoors.

Courtesy of New Hampshire Fish and Game

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October 31, 2008

New National Historic Landmarks

Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, has designated 16 sites in 11states as new National Historic Landmarks.  Some of these are really close and will make a good late fall trip. 

Those that could be considered are:

  • Camp Uncas, Mohegan Lake, New York 

Camp Uncas was developed 1893 to 1895 on Mohegan Lake in what is now the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

Camp Uncas is one of the best examples of Adirondack camp architecture, which was designed for leisure.  It is of exceptional historical and architectural significance as the first Adirondack camp to be planned as a single unit by William West Durant, widely recognized as one of the most important innovators of the property type.

  • John and Priscilla Alden Family Sites, Duxbury, MA

The John and Priscilla Alden Sites property consists of the circa 1700 Alden house and the circa 1632 original Alden Homestead site.  The property owes it significance to the cultural impact of The Courtship of Miles Standish, a poem about the courtship of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, written by Alden descendent Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and published in 1858.  The public embraced the poem.  It became one of the most popular national origin stories in American folklore.

  • Coltsville Historic District, Hartford, Connecticut

Located at the southern edge of downtown Hartford, CT, the Coltsville Historic District is nationally significant for its association with Samuel Colt and the industrial enterprise that he founded: Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company.  The company played a key role in the development of the American economy from 1855 to 1945.  The Coltsville story revolves around Samuel Colt; it also is the story of his widow, Elizabeth Colt, because she guided the Colt Industries for approximately 40 years after Samuel's death in 1862.  While the Colt Manufacturing Company is best known for the production of firearms, between wars, the Colt Company manufactured a range of other products, such as typesetting machines and steam engines.

Remember also, take a child hunting this fall, they are our future.

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October 24, 2008

Wildlife Trackers Conference

This is a great family outing, but you must act quickly.  The conference will take place on Saturday, November 1, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; 9 a.m. registration, $25 per person, Doyle Conservation Center, Leominster, Massachusetts.

Keynote speaker:  Paul Rezendes

  • Join us to hear renowned tracker, author and photographer Paul Rezendes.
  • Find out how fellow trackers have been using wildlife tracking in their work.
  • Renew friendships and share your experiences.
  • See exhibits about other tracking-related resources.

Keynote address:  Reflections on a Life in Tracking-A Retrospective by Paul Rezendes

Other presentations:  Tracking the Squirrel Parks:  David Brown; Tracking on the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge:  David Lange; Teaching Tracking in School:  Joan Regan; Where the Wildlife Are:  Tracking Animals under Route 2, Concord, Massachusetts:  Lydia Rogers; Discovering the Wild Around Us:  The Secret Lives of Animals Amongst us:  Julie Towne; Tracking Black Bear:  Nick Wisniewski.

Snacks and hot and cold drinks will be provided.  Please bring your own bag lunch.

See “Area Information” under “Conference Details” on www.masswildlifetrackers.org for a list of nearby restaurants.  Please pre-register on line at:  Registration Form. 

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October 17, 2008

Waterfowl Migration Map

As the waterfowl hunting season approaches, there’s one question on the mind of every duck hunter.  Ducks Unlimited (DU) is once again helping answer that “where” question.  DU recently launched the latest version of the most comprehensive migration map on the Web today.  It’s online now at www.ducks.org/MigrationMap.

“The new waterfowl migration map is the perfect combination of cutting-edge technology and word-of-mouth communication among duck hunters,” said Anthony Jones, DU’s Director of Internet Services.

How it Works:

Migration map users can report waterfowl activity and hunting conditions in their local area.  Visitors loading the map will see an aerial view of North America with colored markers scattered across it.  Everyone is encouraged to submit a report, whether you’re an avid hunter or someone who just enjoys following the annual migration.

From the Outdoor Wire

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October 10, 2008

Hunt of a Lifetime

Every year from now on, “Hunt of a Lifetime” will be granting the wish of two children in New Hampshire.  RSA 208:1-aa passed the legislature in 2007, and this year was the first year of the permits.  The law permits licenses or permits for a qualified youth who has a life-threatening, critical or terminal illness.

I was fortunate to be invited to cover the hunt.  It was a privilege to meet 9-year-old Keith Locke, of Concord, who has juvenile dermatomyositis, a form of muscular dystrophy.  He was a real gentleman, and a good shot, as demonstrated prior to the hunt.  Keith was able to find a nice bull the first day out around dusk.  The bull was estimated to be around 800 pounds.  I think he is probably still smiling today!

If you know of a child that has a life-threatening, critical or terminal illness and loves to hunt, contact Safari Club International’s New Hampshire Chapter president Dale Carruth at Dale-carruth@comcast.net or go to HuntOfALifetime.org for more information.  Hunt of a Lifetime’s founder Tina Patterson says, “We are doing what we can to make a difference in their life — a dream come true.”

SCI’s mission is “protecting our freedom to hunt, and providing value to members by shaping policies and legislation that protect our freedom to hunt locally, nationally, and internationally, while promoting a positive image of hunters and portraying them as responsible citizens contributing towards wildlife conservation, education, and programs that benefit the community.”

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October 3, 2008

Early Fall Bass Fishing

Gabe Gries, Region 4 Fisheries Biologist, Monadnock/Upper Valley Region gives some good tactics to fisherman; “Bass fishing is in the ‘fall bite’.”  What does that mean?  Ask three bass anglers and you will get four answers.  The key to putting bass in the boat in the fall is to pay very close attention to the water temperature.  October temps should not dip below 50 degrees until the end of the month.  Mid-October is typically spinner bait time.  This technique covers water fast, eliminating unproductive water.  As long as the water temp is between 55 - 65 degrees, I will fish the available structure in depths from 1 to 15 feet.  Watch for young-of-the-year baitfish like yellow perch; on calm fall days, you will see them dimpling the surface.  A grub and jig head work around the school of baitfish, one of my more successful tactics.  (Folks will talk about vertical jigging in the fall.  That happens much later.  Once the water temps dip below 50, then you can go jigging.)

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September 26, 2008

Hunting Season Soon Here

That time of year is coming around again — hunting season.  To keep readers informed, October is small game season.  To my hunting friends, let’s keep the ethics of hunting in mind.  While much more land each year becomes posted to hunting, respect the landowner and find other places to hunt.  One way to find places is NHhunts.com.  Another is going to the town offices and asking the Tax Collector to tell you if any land is in current use.  Contact those owners, because they should provide you access.  Still, always ask permission first, and leave no trace that you were there. 

Remember — hunters and non-hunters alike — to wear orange in the autumn woods.  A simple hat or vest is good insurance against accidents.  We all share the woods, so be aware out there.  Make 2009 an accident-free year.

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September 19, 2008

Hunting and Fishing Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day is September 27.  National events will occur, but what can you do?  Support your sport by buying ammunition, lures or other gear; buy a license, duck stamp or other things related to hunting and fishing.  Some of the money spent is returned to our state for wildlife.

Consider this about hunting:

  • If hunting were ranked as a corporation, it would fall in the top 20 percent of the Fortune 500 list of Americas largest companies, slightly ahead of such global giants as General Dynamics and Coca-Cola.
  • According to the National Sporting Goods Association, more Americans go hunting than play softball or tennis.
  • The number of U.S. hunters age 16 and over – 12.5 million – is about three times the total number of people attending baseball games at Yankee Stadium over a full season.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports roughly nine percent of all hunters (more than 1.1 million) are female.

So, take time to get out in the woods this fall, and take a friend. 

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September 12, 2008

Of Birdfeeders and Bears

Though it is a little early for anyone to put out bird feeders, due to bears who are feeding on everything to prepare for hibernation, it is time to think of a good feeding system.

Black River Tools, manufacturers of Driftmaster Rod Holders, is introducing a new product line of wild bird feeders under the brand name Father Nature.  “It’s got to work, and it’s got to last!” is its motto.  Most feeders available are made of lightweight short-lived parts with no serious thought given to function. 

So many feeders on the market today are made to be decorative and nothing more.  With no wood or plastic used at all, these all-metal feeders will stand up to New England weather!  Also, squirrels can’t turn it over, chew it up and, with the optional “squirrel baffle,” they simply can’t get to it.

Father Nature bird feeders offer tube-shaped food ports, so birds must pick their food rather than rake it out on the ground and the “seed saver tray” catches fallen seed and gives it another chance to be eaten rather than wasted.

Sold only through the Website, so visit www.fathernature.org.  This is a quality product made in the U.S.A., guaranteed to last a lifetime and worth considering.  

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September 5, 2008

Pure Water in the Field

Water is always a problem in the field, but things are improving in the field treatment process.  PUR markets its latest water-purification product as a “mini water treatment plant in a packet.”  It filters even dirt brown water.  As a two-step process, calcium hypochlorite, a bleaching agent, kills off any virus or bugs.  The final result is water that’s 99.99 percent pure, according to data from PUR parent company Reliance Products, which needed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval before introducing the chemically potent product to the consumer market earlier this year.  Working with the PUR Clean Drinking Water Kit–a $28.99 do-it-yourself water treatment plant that includes the chemicals, stir sticks, filtering cloth and containers, is a superior way to clean large quantities of suspect liquid.

Another product, Triton M2 is a great device, and quite portable.  Operation is simple.  You connect the untreated water above the unit and the water flows out the bottom, pretreated.  It’s then treated with a few drops of anti-virus solution.  Ten minutes later, you stick a test strip in the water for two seconds, match it to the test strip on the bottle, and know immediately if the water’s purified. 

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August 29, 2008

Ruffed Grouse Society

Looking to get ready for the upcoming bird seasons?  The Ruffed Grouse Society will hold a fundraiser shoot in Williston, Vermont.  Proceeds will used to restore and protect grouse and woodcock habitat and the Green Mountain Chapter of RGS will hold its 13th Annual Fun Shoot at the North Country Sportsman's Club, West Oak Hill Road (off Old Creamery Road), Williston, Vermont on Saturday, September 20.  According to Terry Wilson the entry fee for this 100-target event (choice of five-stand, trap or skeet or any combination) is $50 for adults, $25 for youths and $25 for non-shooters, and includes lunch.  Registration begins at 9 a.m. (shooting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).  Lunch will be served from noon to 1:30 p.m., and 12- and 20-gauge shells will be available for purchase.

For more information and/or directions call Wilson at (802) 482-7080 (day) or (802) 482-2561, (evening), or by e-mail:  info@uglydoghunting.com. 

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August 15, 2008

BowTech Factory Modification Campaign

Affecting the 2008 General compound bow - 60# and 70# limb Integrity BowTech publicizes this notice as a service to BowTech customers and potential BowTech customers.  We have determined a potential defect relating to the limb integrity on certain 2008 General bows produced between October 2007 and July 17, 2008.  Consumer safety has and continues to be BowTech’s primary concern, and while the incidents of failure are small, our integrity will not be compromised over business issues.  The reason for this recall:  The affected limbs on 60# and 70# 2008 General bows may have been incorrectly machined, resulting in possible limb separation through the center of the axle hole.  Should this happen, the affected limbs could cause the cam and axle to pull free from the limb causing major failure and the risk of personal injury to the operator and/or bystanders.

What you should know:  You should not draw or attempt to fire your 2008 General until this important inspection, and if necessary, modification is performed by an Authorized BowTech Dealer.  If you are not the original owner of your 2008 General, and are unsure if the inspection/modification has been completed, contact any Authorized BowTech Dealer for inspection. 

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August 8, 2008

Time to Sign Up for Hunter Education

About half of the hunter education classes for 2008 have already been completed.  More than 3,500 people participate in hunter education each year in New Hampshire.  Right now is prime time to sign up to take a hunter education class.  In order to purchase your first hunting license in New Hampshire, you must complete a hunter education course before you can hunt.  Individuals 16 years old and older need a hunting license to hunt in New Hampshire.  The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department offers Hunter and Bowhunter Education classes around the state, as well as Trapper education.  To find a class, visit http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Hunting/hunter_ed_schedule.htm or call 271-3214.

The basic hunter education course averages about 16 hours of classroom instruction and field experiences, including live fire on a shooting range.  In addition to traditional classes, Fish and Game offers a home-study option for completing the hunter education requirement.  This option takes about the same amount of time as a classroom course, but preparation is done at home, then participants attend a required field day involving a written exam and field skills testing.  There are specific deadlines for signing up for the home study option, and space is limited.  For successful completion of the home-study course, participants must be at least 15 years old.  For a list of home study sessions, call (603) 271-3214 or visit the Fish and Game Website at http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Hunting/hunter_ed_homestudy.htm.

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August 1, 2008

Sportsmen’s Alert Network

You and I play an important role in preserving traditional outdoor sports and our need for critical information to inform us of actions being taken that affect those sports is vital. 

U.S. Sportsman’s Association Senior Vice President Rick Story said; “We can immediately mobilize sportsmen for action whenever their rights are threatened in the states, before Congress, right down to the local level.”  So, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) is kicking off the new U.S. Sportsmen’s Alert Network.  This new program informs and unites sportsmen through e-mail news releases and the weekly On Target e-newsletter.  The new U.S. Sportsmen’s Alert Network is communicating with nearly 400,000 members so far.

“There is a lot more to protecting the future of the outdoors than simply voting for good candidates at election time,” Story said.  “The process by which laws are made is a participatory endeavor,” he said.  “Even a bad legislator will vote right if given the political reasons to do so.  The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alert Network is the most important tool yet to make sure hunters, anglers, trappers and wildlife management get a fair shake in the forums that make public policy.”

Individual sportsmen can submit their email address and interest to the USSA through an online form at www.ussportsmen.org.  By including their particular outdoor interest the USSA can make sure to send information that most pertains to them.

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July 25, 2008

Free Summer Youth Program Offered

Theres still time to sign young people up for a summer youth day program being offered from August 5 - 21 at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Departments Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness.  The program offers youth age 10 - 15 a chance to learn about the shooting sports, bowhunting and other outdoor skills.  Sessions are open to individuals, as well as recreation programs, scout troops and other youth groups.  You can sign up for one day or three days of the program.  During each of the three weeks, one day is devoted to shooting sports, one day to bowhunting, and one day to general outdoor skills.  The sessions are not progressive (the same activities will be offered each week).

Participants may register for one session, or additional days to experience different activities.  The sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Participants must bring a bag lunch.  Pre-registration is required and will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis.  Space is limited ­ enrollment is limited to 20 boys and girls per day ­ so please register early.  To register, call 536-3954.  There is no charge for the sessions.  Each program is hands-on, and all participants will be encouraged to take part. 

(Press release of New Hampshire Fish and Game)

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July 18, 2008

Boating Safety Tips from U.S. Boat Foundation

Put safety into your weekend plan:  the foundation’s free online boating toolbox at www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/Guide has helpful information on trip planning and preparation, boating equipment, emergency preparation, navigation, and quizzes to test your knowledge.

  1. “Little” guests need life jackets:  Everyone wants to be on the boat, but do you have the right-sized life jacket aboard for any visiting kids?
  2. Take your time to get home:  Summer is the time of the year many fair-weather boaters - who may rarely navigate in the dark - venture out after the sun goes down.  Be extra vigilant about not running over anchor lines in crowded fireworks viewing areas, and don’t take shortcuts in the dark.
  3. Wear life jackets:  Almost three-quarters of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 87 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
  4. Don’t overload your boat:  Resist the urge to invite more friends or family to the fireworks show than what your boat was designed to carry.
  5. It’s a long day:  A full day in the sun will increase alcohol’s effects on the body, so it’s better to wait until you’re safely back at the dock or home before breaking out the libations.
  6. Know how to get back in the boat:  A fall overboard can turn into a life-threatening situation pretty quickly, especially for small boats without built-in boarding ladders.
  7. Never run an engine, or a generator for that matter, with swimmers in the water near exhaust ports or props.  Even though the boat’s transmission may not be in gear, propellers can still rotate, and odorless, colorless carbon monoxide can quickly overcome swimmers.
  8. Take a local boating safety class.
  9. Cruising offshore?  An emergency position indicating rescue beacon (EPIRB) will give you the margin of safety you need during an offshore passage.
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July 11, 2008

Outdoor Tips for Parents

A few years ago, Patrick E. McHugh, the founder of MPI Outdoors of Windham, helped me with a presentation to Hudson schoolchildren.  His love for kids and the outdoors is amazing.  Recently, the “Outdoor Wire” published his tips;

  • Trips with children should be to places where there is a guarantee of action.  A good example is first time camping in a park where large numbers of wildlife can be viewed, such as squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and even bear.
  • Enthusiasm is contagious.  If you aren’t excited about an adventure, you can’t expect a child to be.
  • Always be seated when talking to someone small.  That is why fishing in a small boat is perfect for adults and kids.
  • Always show how to do something, whether it is gathering sticks for a campfire, cleaning a trout, or tying a knot.  Never tell- always show.
  • Let kids be kids.  Let the adventure happen, rather than trying to force it within some preconceived plan.
  • Expect young peoples’ attention spans to be short.  Instead of getting frustrated about it, use it to your advantage.  How?  By bringing along a small bag of candy and snacks.  Where there is a lull in the activity, out comes the bag.
  • Make absolutely certain the child’s sleeping bag is clean, dry, and warm.
  • Nothing is worse than discomfort when trying to sleep, but a refreshing sleep makes for a positive attitude the next day.
  • Kids quickly relate to outdoor ethics.  They will enjoy building and extinguishing a safe campfire, understanding local laws and picking up all their litter, and they will develop a sense of pride that goes with it.
  • If you want youngsters hooked on the outdoors for life, take a close-up photograph.  Young children can forget how much fun they had, but they may never forget if they have pictures of it.

Find more at www.mpioutdoors.com/kids_kit.

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