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The Outdoor Narrative: We need to teach our children well — about life and death

I watched them at the lake’s edge recently, the three boys, as they focused their attention excitedly on something near their feet. I don’t know what it was that fixated them, other than it was something living. Maybe it was a snake or a frog.
The outdoor narrative: We need to teach our children well — about life and death_0

I watched them at the lake’s edge recently, the three boys, as they focused their attention excitedly on something near their feet.

I don’t know what it was that fixated them, other than it was something living.

Maybe it was a snake or a frog. Perhaps it was a dragonfly nymph, or a leech, a tiny mouse, or a salamander.

What’s most important is that it was something new to them, something wild.

One of the boys dipped his finger into the water as if to prod this mysterious thing and suddenly recoiled with a gasp. I was too far away to tell if the thing nipped him or if it only moved unexpectedly under his touch.

robert koopmans column head

Regardless, it prompted a strong reaction and I suppose it was inevitable what followed. He reached for a rock and fired it at this thing that dared try to fend him off. The other boys followed suit and, soon, they were pelting a barrage of rocks into the water near their toes.

I felt sad then, at the sight of three children trying to stomp the life from something in such a way, if only because it made me think of when I was a boy and how sometimes I acted similarly.

Ten years old or thereabouts is a dangerous time with a young boy, not so much for the boy, but for the little living things around him. Such a child is old enough to have the physical ability to wield a stick, rock or pellet gun with efficiency against living things, but often too young to know they shouldn’t.

It’s with shame I think back to a couple of incidents of killing that my group of young friends and I engaged in the Ontario woodlots through which we rambled as boys.

It’s not that we were evil or cruel by nature — we just didn’t think about it.

Somewhere deep down, we knew we shouldn’t, but no one told us as much or paid much attention as we did what we did. And, sometimes, boys live up to that adage, and they be boys — not unlike the young fellows I watched most recently at the water’s edge. Fine kids, I’m sure, who haven’t been taught essential lessons about life and death and the proper place of both in the natural world.

We need to teach kids that death is a natural part of life and there are times when people are entitled to take it.

There is reason to kill animals and let’s not pretend otherwise. We’re a deadly society that kills creatures often and efficiently, for a necessary purpose. How would we feed ourselves otherwise?

But there are also times when we are not entitled to and little boys need to be told so, in one way or another.

When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought me a 12-gauge, single-shot shotgun, the kind with a long barrel, full choke and a thumb-pulled hammer on the top.

This was a serious step up from the little pellet gun I had been given as a gift a few years before that and — for this I thank my father dearly — I was required to take a course and get my hunting licence before setting afield with it.

With instruction came the realization that my behaviour in the forest for the few years previous was unethical and illegal. With my hunting licence and accompanied by adults who hunted, I learned to make life and death decisions in a way that reflected an ethic in which I still believe. I wish I had been taught the lessons sooner.

As for the three boys, I don’t know if they were successful or not in their quest to extinguish the little beast at the water’s edge, but after a minute or so of frantic rock-throwing, they wandered away.

Unless they are offered a little direction from those responsible for guiding them through this world, I’m sure they will be boys again — and another little creature somewhere else will suffer a similar fate.

Casting loops sets anchor in city

Just a quick note to welcome a new member to our fishing community, one Kamloops anglers have needed for quite some time.

Casting Loops opened its doors this summer to serve the needs of the local fly-fishing community. It’s located in Valleyview, in the plaza by the Starbucks and the CIBC Bank off Oriole Road.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a dedicated fly-fishing shop in Kamloops.

I dropped into the store this past weekend for a look around and, from what I can see, it has the seeds to be a place I know I will visit often.

I didn’t have a chance to get the owner’s name, but listening to him chat with customers, I could tell he takes his fishing seriously and knows what he is talking about.

I hope his business grows and drops permanent anchor in Kamloops.

Of course, making that happen requires the fishing community to show some support and forgo Amazon in favour of dollars spent locally.

I hope we all do so.

Drop in and pay Casting Loops a visit and show them some local hospitality.

Robert Koopmans is an avid angler and hunter who spends as much time as possible in B.C.’s wild places. He also hosts the Hunting & Fishing British Columbia podcast (find it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts). To share a thought, send an email to info@theoutdoornarrative.com.