Record your outdoor moments

June 13, 2009 at 06:11 PM

Illinois high-school students across the state recently interviewed World War II veterans and recorded those interviews on video. They got to know members of the “Greatest Generation” as they encouraged them to share their wartime experiences.

Some of the young people had never talked to a WWII veteran, and some of the veterans had never spoken about the part they played in saving the world. All in all, it was a good deal for everybody and a way to preserve a part of our history.

Keeping our personal and collective experiences alive is also a pretty good idea for those of us who haven’t, and never will, participate in world-changing events. The stories that we hear and tell at the deer cabin, or around the campfire, or beside the lake in a fishing lodge, are a big part of what makes the outdoor experience the pursuit of a lifetime.

Someday, nobody will be around with the knowledge to piece together the entire chain of events surrounding the day a novice fisherman knocked both the eyes out of Boyd’s favorite fishing lure with just one cast, or the first time a young boy filled a deer tag when his dad had dozed off in the buddy stand, or that sub-zero January day when four of us went pheasant hunting because it was the last day of the season, and we hadn’t done anything that stupid lately. If nothing else, the next generation might get a kick out of knowing that we were once so foolish.

One thing that draws people to outdoor pursuits is the opportunity to learn from the experiences of people who have “been there and done that.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard in the cabin, in the truck or in the coffee shop, “We ought to be writing this stuff down.”

We should be, and now is a good time to start. Put your thoughts, recollections and experiences in a journal while they still burn bright in your memory.

Our hunting and fishing buddies are some of the best friends we’ll ever have. Reading their words, and sharing their thoughts, when you can no longer hear their voices one day will be priceless.

You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to keep a journal from one season to the next. All the stories don’t have to include gut-busting punch lines, or the retelling of bringing home the deer or fish of a lifetime.

There is something about every day afield or afloat that is worth remembering. If you think nobody is interested, you may be mistaken. Those young people who don’t seem to be paying much attention when the old guys are sitting around chewing the fat are soaking up a lot more than we think.

Someday, the stories they tell around the campfire will be about us. If we want them to get it right, we can help them out now.