Gramp’s Cramps

By Cliff Kunde

When to Start

I have spent many years and countless hours following the deterioration of our environment. The loss of habitat in the woods and in our waters, wondering just who might take up the crusade and ride a magnificent white stallion into the future and help preserve what we have taken for granted for so many years.

The bank of excited hunters and fishermen seems to have been reduced in the last decade. Some of us older folks still have the desire, but lack the stamina. Finding someone, whom has seen the height and watched the degradation of our environment, is difficult and tricky.  We have also spent a lot of our free time working to achieve some degree of excitement in the younger generation, so they too can develop a passion. Fishing and hunting clinics are a start that almost everyone can get involved in and consequently learn a little too.

The rewards can be staggering if you have the passion and fortitude to follow through. Take the case of Harrison Putnam, a 7 year old out of Homestead, Florida. His grandfather, Hal Arve and I have been working for years to promote good hunting and fishing attitudes in the younger generation. Hal witnessed the benefit this past year when the boy scored a “True Florida Slam” by nailing a wild hog, a deer and a very respectable wild turkey, all in the same year. Don’t get me wrong, the kid is no Davy Crocket yet, but dedication by those around him made it possible. His father, Jason Putnam, started him off on the back porch with a pellet gun. The constant sight of father and grandfather going out on the water or into the woods sparked his interest, curiosity and imagination. Once he started asking questions, was just the beginning, the perfect way to answer them is to TAKE him along.

That’s what happened last year and it worked. Seven year old Harrison might be spoiled for life, but I don’t think so. His father and grandfather will see to it that he gets out and about until he can do it on his own. Case solved. I explained to my wife how we are slowly working our grand kids into this scenario and she exclaimed without hesitation “you were twice his age when you got your first slam”. She is correct, I was fourteen when my dad celebrated my accomplishment. Golly, that was a long time ago and you could shoot hens back then, and out of the trees as well.

Times change and we learn a little more on the way. My wife didn’t get her first slam till sixty-five, so there. My father always said, “It was not the harvest, but the adventure” that mattered. I still hold that true. And no matter the age, NOW is the time to introduce them to the outdoors.

We are looking forward to this years hunt and seeing young Harrison get another slam and develop a deeper passion. Some day he might be writing a story about his kid working on a slam. It could be the only way to keep the conservation movement alive. Spend the time to help introduce our young folks to Mother Nature, she has a lot to give if you stop and listen. Stay safe until we meet again.