On Wednesday, I turned 60 years old. It's a mile stone many never thought would come, especially me.
But I did reach this portal into old age and realize that I still feel young, though not quite as invincible.
I have written this column for almost half my life, experiencing both success and failure. Many interesting people have crossed my path including celebrities.
But my favorite people are hard-working tax payers who happen to be good hunters, fishermen or just solid outdoors men and women with a passion for preserving the good, clean outdoors.
I have watched this country change throughout my life, sometimes for the better and lately for the worse. So, I want to share a few thoughts on what I have learned in my outdoor life:
* Politicians that influence outdoor agendas generally start out as honest citizens wanting to make a difference. Most learn early how to play the political game and adhere to their political party’s wishes.
This is when they start making promises never meant to be honored but only to draw votes. There are honest politicians, however, and America has never needed them more.
* Gun control issues will eventually affect honest Americans that would never commit a crime with firearms or in any other way. Sadly, many of the proposed laws lump honest American gun owners with criminals that use guns as tools of their trade.
Perhaps even more ironically, those of us that use guns for the correct reasons are placed in the same categories with idiots that walk into schools or other places and take innocent lives. The truth is, only a tiny percentage of gun owners ever commit any kind of crime, but they get all the publicity.
* So called assault weapons are the main focus on firearm bans. Everyone I know that owns this type of firearm is honest with more money in their bank accounts than I will ever see. They worked hard for this money and never hurt anyone doing it.
I don’t own an assault rifle and really don’t want one. My guns are for hunting, fishing, collecting or home protection. But I have no problem with an honest citizen owning an assault rifle.
* Not everyone should own a firearm. I believe that only mentally competent individuals without police records should ever touch a firearm.
I understand that some of these so-called gun control laws will require a background check and I don’t disagree with this. But first, I want to know who will decide who may or may not own firearms? Who will make these decisions?
* I spent my young life hunting and fishing. Many kind men taught me how to fish for different species on Lake Waukomis, north of Kansas City, Mo. I will always remember these kind men and hope you, too, will take a child fishing.
Page 2 of 3 - * Computers seem to be taking children away from outdoor activities. I would love to see more kids fishing and hunting or simply enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
This starts when parents or guardians introduce kids to Mother Earth’s paradise. I teach fishing classes for healthy, mentally or physically challenged youth and can be contacted through this newspaper. I prefer to teach groups.
* Pollution has been a problem in this country many years. Groups are constantly wading into rivers and streams to pull out old tires, beer cans and other trash that was placed there by trash.
I am proud of conservation groups or private individuals that take on these huge cleanup programs. I hope everyone will work with these groups to save our land.
* I wish every state had a one-eighths of one percent conservation sales tax, like Missouri has granted. This extra funding purchases new public lands and helps maintain each precious acre.
I hope everyone will pledge their support to excellent conservation groups in each state. Groups like Duck’s Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, The National Wild Turkey Federation and other groups of this nature support various forms of wildlife and deserve our support too.
* I love to fish and learned early only to take home enough fish for a meal. Catch and release is a great way to enjoy fishing over and over, but I don’t agree with releasing a fish that was clearly hooked too deeply in the gills to survive, even in fishing tournaments. That is just a waste.
* Drinking beer has long been associated with fishing. I don’t drink when I fish or hunt and never have. I love my outdoor experiences too much and want to remember every minute.
I do enjoy a beer at home after the hunting or fishing is over. Drinking laws make this an even more intelligent decision.
* I feel one of America’s biggest crimes is not saluting our flag in schools or at events. I am thankful that many still say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing God Bless America. Thank you major league sports for continuing this proud tradition.
Shame on politicians that took prayer out of schools or saluting the American flag while saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I believe that those who want to pray or salute our flag should be given the opportunity.
Those who don’t, just stand there and be quiet. I am proud to say that the outdoor groups I belong to still pray at functions.
* Finally, I always thank God for my outdoor experiences, good or bad for a rain out or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I, too, thank God for the gift of an animal or fish that will provide substance for my family and often silently thank the creature.
Page 3 of 3 - Thank you dear readers for supporting my writing efforts these many years. Hopefully, I will be allowed a few more years to share the beautiful outdoor experience.
Kenneth L. Kieser is a local outdoor enthusiast.