The Outdoors

By Scott Rall, Outdoors Columnist

I just had a birthday last month and reached the tender age of 62. Most of us by the time we reach our 60s have a few grandchildren running around. There are limitless ball games to attend, choir concerts, band and for sure birthday parties to attend. Now I may be, not maybe, am a little old fashioned. When I see kids opening presents I see a pile of gifts comprised of all the current hot trends. Electronics, sports equipment and a ton of toys.

I have often wondered just how many toys a kid needs to be happy. I have one granddaughter that must have over 50 mermaids. We can all identify some special thing or things our kids and grandkids have a soft spot for. The thing that has become very clear to me is that almost all of those hit items will be not even be of interest to said child or gone in the trash in the short span of only a few years.

The money spent on those kinds of gifts will end up getting sold on a rummage sale or outright tossed in way too short of a time. This is money spent with a very short-term reward. The other thing I notice, and it does not matter who the recipient is, almost all of those gifts require batteries or an electrical plug in to a wall in their room or other space in the house. In many cases it allows the child or youth to spend countless hours in their room by themselves with no social interaction with any other human.

We are raising a generation of kids with little to no connection to the outdoors. Humans, especially kids, have an inherited desire to interact with wild things. Imagine taking 1,000 kids and putting them all in an event center with every kind of toy ever manufactured, regardless of their social status, race, geographical location or a limitless number of other factors, each and every one of them would be attracted the person who entered the room with a Labrador puppy, a frog, a turtle or even a hamster.

Curiosity of the natural world in inside every child. What are we doing to nurture this innate desire? Many parents would fall into the category of doing absolutely nothing.

So, I have an idea for you. The next time you get an invitation to some kind of family get together try a new angle. Call around to some of the other invitees and ask them to consider going in a different type of purchase. I am suggesting that instead of another toy or electronic gadget that will be obsolete or end up in a landfill in a few years, consider purchasing that child a lifetime fishing license in whatever state you reside.

I took my son’s two daughters, ages 3 and 4, fishing one day last summer and all they can talk about every time I stop by now is when are going to go fishing again? One fishing outing and they were totally hooked. A lifetime fishing license in Minnesota starts out at $344 dollars for a child 3 years of age and younger and rises to $469 for ages up to 15. Now I know this is more then a normal birthday or Christmas present might cost but it wont end up in a landfill two years later.

A lifetime license is still viable even if the child becomes an adult and moves out of the state of issuance. My son has a lifetime license and when he moved to Colorado for 10 years he could still come home and fish with his dad. I can’t think of anything I would rather do with my kids and grandkids. My daughter’s two sons have fished with their other grandpa and both of them are also totally hooked as well.

There are many other kinds of life time licenses. You can purchase a lifetime firearms deer license, lifetime deer archery license, lifetime small game license, a lifetime spearing license and about eight more combinations of each of these.

The one thing about this unique and lasting gift is that you can most likely participate with your family members no matter old you might get. How many grandparents can play football when they are 80? The number would be 95% less of those same grandparents, or parents for that matter, than those who could still go fishing with them.

It’s kind of a crusty time of year. Mid-March is cold and snowy. Think about warmer days and sitting in a lawn chair watching your kids chase around your grandkids on the shore by the lake. Or, if your kids are young, you chasing your kids around on the shore of a lake. Remember there are rocks to skip and memories to make. Start this trend with a lifetime license. You will never regret it.

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If you have any questions, reach out to me at