Keeping the Mind and Body Occupied and Safe
By Bob Leasure NWTF
Now that our children are staying home from school, there are many ways to keep them safe amid the threat of the contagious Covid-19 pandemic. Today, we are so complacent with our youngsters using technical devices for entertainment. Why not try a different approach, like rolling back the hands of time with some good old forms of entertainment. Some of the things that we did as kids ourselves have gone by the wayside, but could protect us while we self-isolate.
Not all kids live in the country but there are things we can do as a family with a minimum of traveling. All of us don’t have to go too far to spend time fishing. Fishing is not just fun; it can be very educational. One can see how many different species of fish one could catch and identify. There are several sub-species of pan fish in all our local waters. Pan fish are usually classified as fish that we would normally catch to eat. These may include sunfish, bluegills, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, trout or small catfish. Panfish are usually thought of as fish that would fit nicely in a frying pan. Nowadays most of us are practicing Catch and Release fishing. We could have a days-worth of competiton with our kids to see who can catch the biggest, or most; either different species or total catch of the day. Kids who already enjoy fishing can be rewarded with going fishing after completing their at-home school work packets. I know this works; my grandson recently caught his first muskie, a nice thirty-three inch one. He was so excited he couldn’t wait to tell his friends. He also thanked me for taking him and God for creating such an awesome gamefish as he released it back into the water to grow even bigger.
He was so glad that he had already finished his school work too. Also, another time rewarding pursuit is shooting BB guns and other firearms for competition and practice for the up-coming Spring Gobbler season. After some time spent at the range or on a farm shooting and practicing, one could take to the woods scouting for turkey season. This too is very educational and rewarding for a youngster. Not to mention all of the benefits of being outdoors; where there is fresh air and sunshine when its not raining, but also exploring woods and waters and seeing several species of wildlife, birds, and other game and non-game species.
There are many trees, flowers, and also edible forms of vegetation we can find if you pay attention and are observant of your surroundings. We recently noticed on an outing in the nearby woods, that ramps are up; ramps are a wild leek that have a sweet flavor similar to onions and garlic. We also noticed some watercress near a spongy streamside at the water’s edge. Soon, though we didn’t find any yet, morels, a wild mushroom can be found. Several years ago, we were Native troutfishing in the mountains for “Brookies” as we call them, and after releasing about thirty-some of them back into the water, we kept and cleaned a few of them for a stream side meal. We also were able to make a wild salad of tender dandelion greens, chopped morels, watercress, and ramps. We made a salad dressing with mayonnaise and ketchup packets that we carry in our back-packs. We stuffed the cleaned trout bellies with a little squeeze butter, chopped ramps and a few packets of hot sauce. I don’t know when we enjoyed so much on an outing in the mountains.
Another great pastime for spending time with our kids is archery. Most kids I know today really like shooting the bow. Equipment doesn’t have to be elaborate or too expensive. If you don’t have a place to shoot outdoors, an indoor range could be set-up in most of our basements or a garage. Always allow for an adequate backstop and follow all of the safety rules of archery. Supervision is a must for most of these pursuits but what a great way to spend quality time with our kids.
One great benefit of these pursuits is knowing what are kids are up to, while keeping them safe from the Covid-19 threat.
As a Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor and recently postponing all spring classes until we get a handle on this new threat; I’d like you all to consider taking a Traditional Hunter Education class.
Hopefully by August we will be relatively back to normal operations. Take the class with your children, even if you’ve taken the class in the past or are grandfathered in, as some say. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1975 are required to take a certified Hunter Education class before they can purchase a West Virginia hunting license. You must also, be at least ten years old on the day you take the test. There is also an apprentice license you can hunt on if you are age fifteen or older and are required to have a license.
This must be obtained online at the WVDNR website. In the meantime, if you are curious about some of what you might learn by taking the class in a classroom setting; you could take an online class for practice.
You do not have to pay to take the online class unless you are wanting to print out your results. You then have to pay an online fee of $25. and schedule for an Alternate Delivery Class. If you make one mistake in the Hands-On part of the Alternate Delivery, you fail; even before you take the required Written Test. I would highly recommend taking a Traditional Class, you will learn so much more that will keep you SAFE!
Register at register-ed.com. One more thing that I’d like to mention is the most inexpensive thing we can do is just taking a walk in the country. Or even a drive, now that the price of gasoline has come down a little. There is a lot to see if we just put down our wireless devices. This is another great way to connect with our families as we all are trying to find ways to keep our social distance. Another benefit is that while we are doing some of these things we can talk to our kids, calming any fears we all have about this new threat as well as other concerns we have for them. Just prepare for your outings, planning, and take plenty of water and some food and a good survival/first-aid kit with you.
Don’t forget the toilet paper. Just use common sense. Be SAFE