by DJ Randolph | Mossy Oak ProStaff
Those of us that have been around for a few years remember the Mossy Oak commercials using Tracy Byrd’s song “Pass It On.” After all these years those are still my favorite. The theme of the song and the commercial touched something deep inside me. So much so, that I now wear it on my arm in memory of the hunting partners that I have lost. Their initials are hidden in the fletching. My family and friends will tell you that it is more than a slogan; it is a way of life.
To me “Pass It On” encompasses all that we do in the outdoor world. Whether teaching a child how to shoot a bow or calling in a first turkey for an adult, we are leading them down a path that for some will be an appreciation but for others will be a way of life, a passion, an obsession. Many of us had someone who either directly or indirectly started us down that path. I was very fortunate to grow up in a hunting family and be involved in Boy Scouts. Those experiences gave me a desire for more that has never stopped growing. Even as an adult, listening to Mr. Fox Haas talk about conservation and leaving a legacy really strengthens the desire in me to make a difference now and for the future of hunting. It’s important to remember that we are the mentors of the next generation of outdoors men and women.
Most of our society is losing its connection to nature and the earth itself. Those of us that are grateful to have that connection are even more blessed when we get to lead others to it. Seeing the look on a new hunter’s face the first time they hear a turkey thunder off a gobble from the roost is priceless. Listening to a child giggle while they are reeling in a bluegill never gets old. It makes lifelong memories for them and for us.
As we teach them to shoot and cast, as we teach them to track and how to bait a hook, hopefully we also slow down and allow them to enjoy the experience. Sometimes success is taking the time to sit on the tailgate and have a snack while we explain why this hunt did or did not work for us. Sometimes when the fish aren’t biting we just decide to have a rock skipping contest (or a snowball fight in North Dakota). Success is in the time we spend and the memories that we make.
Conservation and land management are always values I try instill in the next generation. We can encourage the future gamekeepers and conservationists by showing our youth, aspiring hunters and the general public that planting certain trees and crops not only affects the landscape today but also for generations to come. The first part of conservation is knowing that all animals need food, water and shelter and that those things are different for each animal. The second part is knowing what changes we can make that will improve those things for the animals in our area. There is a great feeling of accomplishment in knowing that your hard work is improving things now and into the future.
We have many opportunities to Pass It On to the next generation. It can be as simple as working at an event teaching outdoor skills to new outdoorsman. It may be getting up at 4 a.m. to go to our favorite turkey roost or to set up a field of goose decoys. As the outdoorsman matures it may be teaching them to run the tractor as we cultivate for a food plot or having them help as we plant new trees. The most important aspect of passing it on is to take the time to share what we appreciate so much with the next generation. The future is in their hands but what they do with it depends very much on the examples and leadership we provide today. So if you feel blessed to live this lifestyle, please take the time to share those blessings with the next generation. They will never forget it and neither will you.