The average male lifespan in the United States is right around 78 years. That puts me at about halftime, assuming I have the average game clock allotted to me, and if I have less, this column is all the more important. Because, caught up in the madness of March, the intermission of on-ice action (both fishing and hockey), and watching the flying V’s of snows, blues and Canada geese race north across the blue spring skies, I’m recharged and reminded that this is rally time. I reach out to you and the rest of the team – the hunting, fishing, conservation-minded public – to make a difference with the time that remains on all of our proverbial game clocks. Whether it’s the last few seconds ticking away, or still three periods to go, consider this my halftime speech, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Because spring symbolizes and embodies the rebirth of the eternal spirit in all of us that gives us the energy to shake the full-court pressure of winter and get outdoors in earnest. It’s a time to restock tackle boxes, re-line long rods, and get ready for open water while passing those tips on to our new teammates. It’s the season where the snap of a 20 gauge sounds from the hands of a young trapshooter as he or she takes aim at greatness behind a green house throwing orange clays that become black dust. And it’s the timeless observance of the annual returns of birds like robins, geese, orioles, wood ducks zipping over the runs of pike, then walleyes, then bluegills blurring into the warmer days ahead, begetting more angling options on lakes and rivers we’ll never wet a line in, but hopefully, through our efforts, someone will because it’s up to us to make sure that those flows don’t go unexplored or worse, ignored, by the next generation.
Opportunities to influence those future enthusiasts pop up at this time of year like the multi-hued tulips and irises that push their way through last year’s leaves and lawn mulch. Whether it’s the excitement of angling for pre-spawn pike on a Devils Lake channel, or casting for bluegills in motion toward the shallows of a small farm pond, fishing opportunities can be frequent at this time of year and odds are they’re nearby anywhere you live and want to make a difference. And if you don’t do it, no one else will.
What’s more, it has never been easier to find outdoors opportunities beyond fishing this spring. Shooting sports are expanding throughout the upper Midwest with the pace of a wind-whipped spring wildfire spurring new growth and stirring new interest in shotgunning, providing an avenue to fill the ranks of hunters with the next generation, ultimately connecting them to conservation. Chances are in your favor too that there’s a volunteering opportunity with spring Clay Target League programs in Minnesota expected to include over 10,000 kids this year, and its companion leagues are extending their reach into North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin and 13 other states from coast to coast (usaclaytarget.com).
But we can’t spell TEAM in any of these situations without YOU. Now is your time. Seize the day, become a legend in someone’s life, and lead one of your own that will grant you immortality in the stories the next generation will pass on to others of the man or woman who helped them catch their first topwater bass, learn the fly rod, connect with that hard-to-hit left-cutting clay, or understand value of habitat, wildflowers, clean water and fresh air. And whether it seems like we’re down by a dozen or leading by thirty; have just six-tenths of a second or a full sixty minutes remaining, it doesn’t really matter; because it’s spring and it’s rally time…in our outdoors.