Over the Memorial Day weekend I was able to venture out into my nearby pocket of euphoria known as the Bloomington National Wildlife Refuge. A rare gem in the southern twin cities of Minnesota, the rugged trail is fantastic for introducing youngsters to the great outdoors, with the added benefit of stretching your legs whilst taking in God’s creation. I often make the two-block pilgrimage to the refuge to watch both the southward and northward migration of waterfowl. I can easily survey the swarms of ring-necks and red head ducks that pool up on the shallow stop-over area. Large pockets of majestic trumpeter swans feed on the west end of the pond, sticking out like ball of fire in the night. A beautiful spectacle to say the least.
On Memorial Day, my neighbor Andy texted me that he was going for a hike, and I jumped at the chance to forsake some home landscaping for the morning. With our young boys in tow, we tediously tread the grooved paths that make up the historic trail/river system. Every time I take the jaunt down the steep hill that precludes, I feel like I’m entering different world. A world that I often travel hundreds of miles to enjoy in north central Minnesota.
What struck me like a brick to the head on this particular trip was the obnoxious amount of trash and litter that had been dumped by lazy patrons. Gallon size ice tea bottles, carp bait containers, and smashed beer bottles on the bank of the river. The exhilaration I had first experienced soon turned to a spiteful taste in my mouth. This is not the first time that I’ve experienced this type of indifference, nor will it be the last. I’ve often come across similar scenes while picking out a duck blind, or on the winter ice searching for crappies.
Three questions immediately came to me.
How has it come to this? Why is it so hard to carry trash back to your car and dispose/recycle it in the proper way? What are we teaching out youngsters about the way we treat the environment?
In all my life, I’ve never pretended to be a green-party member, but I do believe strongly in respect for the outdoors, and especially for my fellow outdoorsmen/women. The little things that we do in the field like picking up our spent shells, empty beer/pop cans, and making sure that our site was as clean (or cleaner) than when we found it, can go a long way. This seems to be an easy message for most of us, but there will always be some ‘yahoos’ (Jase loves this term), who will spoil it for us. Let’s keep giving hunters and outdoorsmen a good name, and foster an attitude of respect and gratitude for what we most hold dear.