Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Story

I first want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas.  With this issue, I'll break away from outdoors, and share part of a speech given by the late President Ronald Reagan.  He presented this Christmas of 1983 for the lighting of the tree.  I think it covers what the season is about.

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Many stories have been written about Christmas. Charles Dickens' "Carol" is probably the most famous. Well, I'd like to read some lines from a favorite of mine called, "One Solitary Life," which describes for me the meaning of Christmas. It's the story of a man born of Jewish parents who grew up in an obscure village working in a carpenter shop until he was 30 and then for 3 years as a preacher. And, as the story says, he never wrote a book, he never held an office, he never had a family, he never went to college, he never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property that he had on Earth. When he was dead he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone. And today he is the centerpiece of much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon Earth as powerfully as this one solitary life.

I have always believed that the message of Jesus is one of hope and joy. I know there are those who recognize Christmas Day as the birthday of a great and good man, a wise teacher who gave us principles to live by. And then there are others of us who believe that he was the Son of God, that he was divine. If we live our lives for truth, for love, and for God, we never need be afraid. God will be with us, and He will be part of something much larger, much more powerful and enduring than any force here on Earth.

Now, tonight I have a very special person here with me to spread our Christmas joy. Her name is Amy Benham, and she comes all the way from Westport, Washington. Amy recently wrote the leaders of a public-spirited project named "Make A Wish" and said, "The Christmas tree that lights up for our country must be seen all the way to heaven. I would wish so much to help the President turn on those Christmas lights."

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Again, I wish every one, everything!  Enjoy!

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why Hunt?

I’ve been given the honor and opportunity to write a blog about something I dearly love and enjoy.  Who could pass up a chance to write a blog on hunting and fishing?  So with the pertinent task of coming up with something so special that it would send the public into a frenzy to read this blog, I began wondering; do I open with a short autobiography?  Well, that would certainly send everyone into frenzy, but not the type the I would like!
How about a few stories of hunting successes this season?   That will surely follow, and at the end of the blog will be a contact address for you to send information and pictures of your trophies.
But for the first blog, I’ve decided to explain why we hunt, what we hunt, and why it is important.
Fred Bear, a man known as the father of bowhunting, once said “Don’t base the fun or experience of hunting on whether you get an animal or not.  The kill is way, way down the line.  You can enjoy the woods.  You can enjoy the companionship of the birds, and the fish, and the animals, the color of the leaves…”  It really holds true.  Some of my best experiences have been without the climactic shot to bring down the game. 
Every fisherman remembers the ‘one that got away’, but may not be able to tell you anything about the three fish she caught two weeks ago.  The beauty of God’s canvas with you being an integral but non-invasive part of it, that’s really the goal.
As outdoorsmen, our targets are usually the majestic whitetail deer with a crown of bone, or we may hope to bring in the strutting tom eager to meet a new mate.  The trout may be fooled into attacking a cork with feathers believing it to be an unlucky insect.  All have garnered our passions; our unrelenting efforts in pursuit of the biggest and most beautiful of Darwinian challenges.  We have entered nature’s domain, and blended in and became part of nature.  We accepted the challenge and try to conquer nature in its own territory.
We come up with reasons for hunting and fishing, such as nature tends to overproduce, or disease and famine will destroy more wildlife than hunters if we do not help balance the carrying capacity of the land. But really, what I have found goes back to what Fred Bear stated. I do not have the first dove I killed mounted on the wall. But I do have a fond memory of hunting with my grandfather and my father. I was using an old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that my grandfather and father used as a child.
I also have a wonderful memory, and fortunately, a wonderful picture of my son and I walking off a field in Eastern North Carolina with two tundra swan on our shoulders.  My son used the old Ithaca 20 gauge side-by-side that I used as a child.  Hunting is a bridge of generations.  It’s a constant with many variables.   It’s something we must protect, but we must not abuse.  This is why we do what we do and why we enjoy it so.
I look forward to sharing your hunting and fishing experiences, as well as thought provoking and entertaining insights through this blog each week.
Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to