March 13th, 2006

Licensing Kids
By James Castwell


When I was just a little whipper-snapper dad took me fishing whenever he went. We fished for perch through the ice on Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, Michigan in the winter every year. Trolling for walley at night on Silver Lake, Traverse city, Michigan on those warm summer nights was an experience I will never forget. Trips to Canada for trout happened too, great times for the family. Mom, dad and little Jimmy. Wonderful memories, terrific times and a solid education in the outdoors and the ethics and responsibilities that went with it.

There was no preaching involved, none of the 'words of wisdom' like in the River Runs Through It' stuff. Just lived it the right way. Dad showing how; me paying attention. Respect and responsibility.

I learned to use a bait-caster on Silver Lake in the summers mostly by myself. Row-boat or later on a 14 foot Thompson with a 2.5 Johnson kicking my little butt all over the lake searching for Lilly pads and bucket-mouth bass. The days of unbridled youth spent either on the water or in it. Learned to swim early and turned that into a summer job as life guard for several years.

Somewhere along there I grew old enough to need licenses. Hunting and fishing licenses. The teen years and puberty hit all at once; I was growing up. With it came even more responsibility. And with that responsibility came a bit of pride. Pride that I had made it. Made another plateau in my life and now I belonged to yet another group. A section of the sportsmen who needed licenses and were expected to conform to all of the things they required.

It was not so much that the carefree days of youth were gone, but that the more grown-up days of young adult had arrived. I remember buying my licenses. The sporting goods store, Bay City Hardware for a few years, then Breen's Sporting Goods in later years. I never, never once thought of the price as being a bad thing. The cost was simply that. The cost of another year's license. My responsibility. In fact if I screwed up in the field I could lose my license. That would be one of the most terrible things I could possibly imagine.

I am reminded of all of this because of a few posts on the Bulletin Board lately about a state out east is thinking of asking that kids from I guess 11 to 15 be required to have licenses. And a stink and howl has risen. Perhaps with good reasons. Maybe the monies will be wasted, skimmed off, diverted to the general fund or whatever. We elect guys to manage those dollars and I guess mostly they do as good a job as can be expected.

Why we think they will mis-manage the bucks from kids licenses I do not know. I can not for a minute believe that the cost of a license will keep one single kid from fishing. Not one. What father will say I am not going to take my kid fishing, his license costs too much?

So I guess I am going to say I am from a different camp on this one. A license can build a sense of responsibility in a youth and when is a better time to teach that then when he is in his youth? In fact, I still kind of like the annual event of getting my licenses. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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