According to my Mac, a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. When used as a verb, to mentor means to advise or train. I’ve been fortunate to have so many mentors (both woodsmen and other) to guide me along the right path. People like my father, my grandfather, my uncle, my cousin, and countless others have shown me backwoods (and life) skills that I continue to use when hunting, fishing, or even just holding down a log by the campfire.
At this point in my life, my position has changed greatly. I am now a mentor to others – primarily my children but I mentor others as well. I strive to teach them not just the outdoors skills that I have learned, but also a love for nature and respect for wildlife and their environment.
Lately, I’ve been teaching my children archery. Prior to this year, they’ve all watched me practicing for bow hunting and have wanted to learn. Last Christmas, my wife and I purchased the three oldest children Bear Archery Brave III’s. Over the summer, we discussed bow safety (many, many times) and how to shoot their bows. Eventually, we made it outside to start shooting. Fortunately for me, there are no arrows stuck in my house and no calls to 911. We did lose an arrow or two but I suppose that that happens from time to time.
I’ve been teaching my children firearms safety and how to shoot (all three are still on the BB-gun – I’m not ready to move them up to an actual firearm yet.) We take lots of walks or hikes (sometimes fast for exercise and sometimes slow for observing and learning about nature.) We fish as often as we can. And we observe nature here at our home. We’ve watched seeds grow to flowers, luna moths lay eggs, squirrel and deer foraging in our backyard and we’re even rearing luna moth caterpillars.
Even excluding my children, I try to mentor young people to be woodsmen and good stewards of nature. A young friend and I recently spoke at length about the outdoors, hunting, rifles, and a possible canoe/camping adventure for next season.
The point to all of my rambling is that it is imperative that we woodsmen mentor young people and train them to be knowledgable, skilled, respectful and safe woodsmen. As we as a society spend more and more time with technology, we are losing some of our connection with nature. Without having someone teaching our youth a love of nature, what can we expect from them but more time on their computers, smart phones, televisions and earbuds?
If you have children, it’s obvious who you should be mentoring. However, if you aren’t raising your own, there are many, many young boys and girls who want time with nature and want to learn about hunting, fishing, camping and nature. Don’t allow your woodsman spirit to pass away with you. Mentor a young person to be a woodsman and keep our traditions and heritage alive.