We all see our fishing and hunting resources being impacted in negative ways. Access, permission, and images about our sport change when just a few idiots abuse their privileges. Leaving trash, trespassing, vandalism, and other disrespectful behaviors affect us all.
Great Sportsmen must BE THE EXAMPLE! This means that we need to be Stewards of our sports. If you see trash, pick it up, if we see violations, call the enforcement officials, show others the proper way to pursue the sport.
Vault toilets seem to be a routine target for vandalism. Graffiti, trash, and misuse are common. Why some bank fishermen can’t pick up their trash is beyond me. Just check out the pet and people waste along our public trails and parks. Ignoring rules and regulations is just dumb. They exist for a reason. Hygiene and health are two important examples.
Sadly, many users of our natural resources are NIMBYS! If the issues are “Not in My/Their Back Yards”, they really don’t care. If we returned their trash to their yards, watch the sparks fly.
Ignorance is a big part of the problem. This is where the Sportsmen need to speak up and teach these NIMBYS how to do it right. Our public lands, fishing accesses, parks, and trails are funded by taxes on sporting gear and license fees. Most NIMBYS contribute nothing.
Honestly many NIMBYS simply have no clue. They simply were never taught a different or right way. With a quick, respectful, and friendly communication, we can change behaviors for the long term.
A few weeks ago, on a local lake, I saw several kids and their parents leaving a fishing spot. The nearby picnic table contained their lunch trash. Bait cannisters and snack wrappers were strewn along the bank. A tangle of fishing line was hanging in a bush. They were leaving.
I quickly walked over and said, “You are going to clean your trash up, aren’t you?” The mother said, “the park pays people to do that!” She sincerely believed that it was ok to let others clean up the family’s trash. “Is that the lesson you want your kids to learn?”, I asked. “Let me help you and your kids clean the area up properly for the next users.” As we did our cleanup, I learned that they did not have fishing licenses. The kids never had fished before, they thought the lake was beautiful and really had fun. I explained how fees paid by sportsmen created this resource. We discussed how fishing line kills critters and how we are all Stewards of our wild places. They also learned an important lesson about rules and personal responsibility, as they cleaned up all the trash in the area.
They all thanked me for the lesson and help. I guess my decades of teaching paid off. Hopefully the lessons will stick.
“Take only a picture, leave only a footprint!”
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.