A Lesson in Stewardship
September 25th, 2018 by Curtis Condon

A group of kids and their adult leader pick up trash along a shoreline. They are just a handful of the millions of Americans who volunteer each year to clean and protect the outdoors.
© iStock/JF

Pop was a cheapskate—at least that’s what I once thought.

A fishing rock star to me and my childhood friends, Pop wandered streams and lake shores picking up lures, hooks and other tackle snagged on submerged logs or rocks, or tangled in brush. He cleaned them up and reused them.

We would do that, too, but we were kids and didn’t have money for new gear. We had never seen an adult do it before.

But I was wrong about Pop.

I figured that out one day after we bought cold sodas after a hot day of fishing. Before we left, Pop slapped down a wad of money—$100 in all—and bought a money order. He wrote the name of his favorite fishing organization on it, then slipped it into his shirt pocket before we went outside to sit on the porch and enjoy our sodas.

One-hundred dollars back then is equal to nearly $700 today. That’s a lot of money—now or then—especially for an old guy who lived in a tiny cabin on a farm where he worked for room, board and modest wages.

For me, it was a valuable lesson about outdoor stewardship—and not just because of the $100 donation.

I finally realized Pop didn’t scavenge old fishing tackle because he was cheap. It was his way of being a good steward for the outdoors.

Here are some free, easy things you can do to follow Pop’s example:

  • Remove discarded tackle, garbage and fishing line you find along lakes and streams.
  • Pick up used targets, spent brass and other debris after target shooting.
  • Don’t attach targets to live trees (or power poles).
  • Don’t harass wildlife.
  • Only camp at designated sites.
  • Don’t use waterways or shorelines as a toilet.
  • Follow Leave No Trace guidelines, whether backpacking or tailgate camping.
  • Volunteer for cleanup projects.

If you feel the need to put your money where your heart is, go ahead and slap down $700 for your favorite outdoor organization. Pop did.

The Eyes Have It
Deer have an amazing 310-degree field of view. Compare that to humans, who have a 180-degree field of view. Deer also have excellent vision in low-light conditions, such as at dusk and dawn.

Brake for the Rain
Rim brakes on bicycles are susceptible to slipping and even failure in rainy conditions. That’s because water and grime accumulate on the rims and make them slick when wet brake pads come in contact with them. The solution is to feather your brakes, pumping them on and off continuously until they squeegee enough water off the rims for the brakes to start to grip.

How to Fix a Flinch
Dry-fire practice is the best way to cure a flinch. It allows you to go through the same firing process, but without the stress and recoil of using live ammunition. To check your progress, use the ball-and-dummy method by including a few dummy rounds when live firing at the range.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.