Keep up with all things, outdoors, with Big Billy Kinder...
Somewhere in Chicago, or Philadelphia or Dallas, LA or Atlanta, somebody thought it would be a good idea to spray paint their message on the side of a railcar. Maybe they thought it was art. Maybe they were needing a voice for their frustration. Maybe they were high and don’t even remember their crime. That railcar, along with a whole string of others wearing the same decoration sat there waiting for the power of an engine to propel them further down the line, and they looked so out of place. The background had changed from the industrial background of a working city and railyard to the great Rocky Mountain range in Montana. A herd of elk a mile or so up the foothills enjoying spring grazing. Mule deer in velvet, snow melt running down the ravines and purifying itself over smooth river rock in the creeks below-Nesting birds of all varieties from song singers to waterfowl.
A lot of folks have worked very hard to preserve our pristine countryside creation gifted to us from The Almighty Himself, and now here is a rolling string of eyesore trying its best to scream “look at me” louder than the landscape. This is a scene that repeats itself over and over again as we travel our nation. Some call train tagging a long standing American tradition, some folks appreciate the artwork. I don’t, but rather than sit here and whine, I’ll turn the pointed finger back to myself and ask what I have done to help the cause of our national parks, wetlands and BLMs? I research and respond financially to organizations that actually follow thru and put their money where their mouth is. I’m mindful to leave hunting, camping and fishing spaces at least as clean as they were before my presence. I try. I try to share the conservation message here and on the airwaves. I’m not grandstanding; I’m not the original thinker of these simple ideas; I’m just doing what others before taught me, and that is precisely where I fall short.
As I stare at those railcars and inspect my role in the graffiti, it dawns upon me that I’m not doing enough to share what I have with others. God’s great gift of the outdoors. It’s so so sooooo easy when a day off comes along to hit the lake alone, or with familiar company for a day of fishing. How many kids, vets, lonely, hurting folks will I pass along the road to the lake? How many of them would enjoy learning to gather sustenance from a lake with a string and a hook? How many fished for decades before time and lack of family and fishing friends relegated them to Matlock reruns and three square meals between doctor visits? I fall into a category of stinginess here. I’m stingy with our great gift. I seldom invite new folks along to fish or hunt. There are so many opportunities to teach someone about, or renew an old flame for the outdoors. There are nursing homes within a short drive from my home. There are veteran’s organizations and therapy centers. There are organizations like the Dallas Ecological Foundation, Bass Brigade, Big Brothers Big Sisters and endless others that can introduce me to a youngster that would LOVE to just go fishing. Shame on me, and if you're guilty, shame on you too.
That incredible forest, mountain and river scenery that I spend much of my life in, needs those graffiti painters just as much as the artists themselves need to be swallowed up by vast natural expanse. It’s healthy, and healing for those without opportunity to see, breath and hear nature. For those resources to remain, future conservationists must learn now of their importance. *President Teddy Roosevelt was sickly as a kid. Asthma, near sighted and later heart disease beset him according to many historical accounts. As a young man, it is written that Teddy’s dad said, “Theodore you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. I am giving you the tools, but it is up to you to make your body.” Teddy responded positively to dad’s message and changed the conservation world. What will that newcomer that I introduce do with his/her knowledge?
I will make an effort to provide some tools for them. It’s important.
*McKay, Brett and Kate. (2007, December 31). Lessons in Manliness: The Childhood of Theodore Roosevelt. Retreived from http://www.artofmanliness.com/about-2/
June 22, 2016
I'm asked from time to time to speak to different groups. It's always humbling to be invited and to actually stand before these groups. Even though I've been in the radio business and spoken publicly for decades, it also scares the bejeebers out of me. I'm much more comfortable alone on the bow of the boat searching out slab crappie or big bass.
When I do stand before these groups, I can tell of the 8 ponder that I caught last week. Where I found her, what bait I was throwing, water temp, water color, weather conditions and other details that MIGHT help these folks out. I can tell them about the brushpile deep in a body of water that holds mega numbers of crappie this time of year and that MIGHT help them some. I can give some stats, numbers and accounts of how remaining in your stand on guard for big bucks has paid off many times at 1 in the afternoon rather than at daylight or dusk.
But...What I have to say, or anybody else for that matter, is only yesterday's news, or a guess about tomorrow...unless...we are speaking God’s word. THAT is my only confidence. That is the only pure truth, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I'm not a preacher, God didn’t call me to that. I am saved by His incredible grace, and I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love, and that I can speak of with an overwhelming confidence.
There's lots of public speakers out there right now that are talking about walls, gun control, international terrorism, our suffering economy, how the US can be great again and so on and so forth. Yesterday's news and tomorrow's speculation. There is but one way to make America great again. I sure hope you'll call the family in, click on the LINK and listen to "Who is God’s Candidate?" You can have confidence when you base your vote and your daily choices on what God has to say.
June 10, 2016
This is the time of year when even the most ardent land lovers glance at those shiney new boats and start daydreaming about big fish, evening cruises, and family time on the water. The water provides tremendous pleasure, even therapy. It’s a direct contrast to 5mph traffic, constant people contact and as my friend Will Primos put it “this cell phone, laptop, computer infested world”. Your decision to buy a boat or not is very personal and not one to be taken lightly.
Ask yourself this question and give a sincere answer. How often will you truly use a boat? There are 52 weekends in a year. How many of those will be consumed with work/family/duty commitments that keep you away from the water? Do you have 8-10 spare weekends in a year? 10-20? 20-30? If you have limited time but still want to hit the water, consider rentals. Someone else pays for the boat, storage, upkeep, insurance and licensing. You pay an exorbitant fee for a half or full day rental and refuel. But you pay as you go. One-n-done.
If you, like me, LOVE to fish, consider using various guide services. If you can't get to the water as much as you’d like but 1-10 times per year is an option, you don’t have the time to “figure out” the fish and their seasonal habits and travels. The guides do and the fee that you pay a guide is well worth the money for a much much higher catch percentage option.
If you’ve thought it over and decided that you and your family are indeed able to get to the lake more often than not, and you want to take the ownership step...good for you! Before you load a single fishing rod, wakeboard or water ski on that boat give some serious thought to safety. The law requires proper flotation for each passenger on your boat and a fire extinguisher, but...I like to take it a few steps beyond lawful requirements. Here's my short list:
~Weather radio...these are cheap and an absolute must! Buy one that allows you to switch it to alert only. Keep fresh batteries in it, and every time you head out onto the water-pretty day or not-turn it on. It can save your life, the lives of your family and friends, and your boat gear etc with early warning that lightening, big wind, foul weather is approaching.
~A VERY loud noisemaker. Some states actually require a whistle. I carry a whistle, and a compressed air horn. The air horn was designed to get a bear out of your face in the woods, but I promise you it will grab attention in distress from across the lake.
~GPS is waaaaaaay too common, inexpensive and user friendly these days not to have one with you. Mark your boat ramp before you take off on a new lake just in case you lose your bearings. Small handheld units are great, but I prefer to spend a few more bucks and install a unit that includes or can be loaded with lake maps, bottom contours for safe boat travel, local marina and emergency services information etc. I have two Garmin devices on my boat. One of them in red lettering has a man overboard button. If someone falls in, throw a float cushion and hit the red button. It will mark the exact location of the accident in the event that emergency personnel are required.
~Always...leave a plan with someone that will actually miss you if you don’t come back in time. That plan should include: 1) The water body that you will be boating 2) How many others will be in your boat, names, phone numbers 3) The boat ramp/parking area that you will access 4) A description of your vehicle and trailer, along with license plate #’s 5) A time to expect you back 6) A description of your vessel, and registration numbers from the exterior bow of your boat
Have a great summer and we’ll see ya on the water!
June 3, 2016