NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
February is Native American Heritage Month across America and a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories, and acknowledge the important contributions of native people.
Native Americans were the first conservationists. They didn’t waste any part of the game they hunted, and they gave thanks to the Great Spirit when they killed an animal to feed their families. They didn’t pollute the streams or the land. They taught their children to enjoy everything in nature.
Those of you who read this column each month can probably tell I enjoy Native American sayings and the wisdom in their words we could all do well to remember today.
Here’s a Cherokee parable about an old chief teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego. The other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you, my grandson, and inside all people.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee chief simply replied, “The one you feed!”
HUNTING FOR SHED DEER ANTLERS
Finding shed antlers in your hunting area in February and March can tell you a great deal about the number and quality of bucks you are likely to see during next hunting season. Look for them where deer are feeding, around water and where they have to cross fences or other obstacles. Brushy ravines are also a good place to look.
There’s something really special about deer sheds because they are all uniquely different. Once you get out there and do it, you’ll be out there every year during this time hunting sheds.
NOW YOU KNOW WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN
In general, the larger a deer’s antlers, the higher its social status in the herd, but the leader of the herd is usually an older doe and not the biggest buck.
FISHING WITH RED STICK BAITS
A local farmer noticed a gentleman would fish at the lake close to his farm and would always leave with a stringer full of fish. The fellow had a boat but never had a fishing pole.
He mentioned this to the local conservation officer who then started watching this fisherman and saw that all the farmer said was true. The man would arrive at the lake, and a short time later, he would return with a stringer full of fish.
So, one day, the conservation officer dressed up like a fisherman and approached the man. They exchanged pleasantries and the fisherman asked the officer in disguise to come fish with him. They boated across the water for 15 minutes and arrived at a secluded spot. The fisherman then pulled out a stick of dynamite.
The officer said, “I’m going to have to place you under arrest–I am a conservation officer and you are fishing illegally!” The fisherman calmly lit the stick of dynamite and handed it to the officer and said, “Are you going to talk or fish?”
A GREAT TIME TO PLAN A VACATION
February can sometimes feel like it is the longest month of the year. The hunting seasons are over, balmy spring fishing seems light years away, and the walls close in a little more each day.
To help get you through it, why not start planning this year’s fishing vacation? You’ll find the task uplifting, and it will help improve your chances of a good fishing trip.
If you only have a week for your trip, resist the lure of faraway places unless you’re flying. Your goal is to fish – not drive. Select a site that can be reached in one day, and you’ll be more likely to return rested instead of exhausted.
The first step is deciding which species of fish you would like to target since it has the greatest bearing on your destination. Now decide if you are going to use a guide or do it on your own, will you need out-of-state license, what type of lodging or are you camping. Important questions that need to be answered and besides, it helps keep your mind off the cold February winds and snow piling up in the driveway.
LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES
If you love the outdoors and still haven’t decided where you want to go on vacation this year, you might want to consider what is known as the Heartland of America’s outdoor playground: Land Between the Lakes, which is located in western Tennessee and Kentucky.
Land Between the Lakes is the largest inland peninsula in America and has more miles of shoreline than Florida. Would you believe people come here from the Great Lakes by boat on their way to Florida? In fact, from here you can go anywhere in the world by water.
Originally created when the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers were impounded creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, it features over 170,000 acres of forested and protected public land, and over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline.
I was there last spring for a turkey hunt, and I’m going back to enjoy the great fishing and other activities. Check it out at www.landbetweenthelakes.com.
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
– Standing Bear