Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Things you can’t get from a video game

Posted by todblog on November 27, 2007

November 21, 2007

What time is it?

No, you can’t play X-Box. Did you take out the garbage? What about your homework? Did you start reading your book for the Geography book report, write your Spanish paper on El Salvador, study for spelling/vocab, etc…? What’s going on in Math? Let me see your planner. Did you take out the garbage? Remember you have junior varsity basketball practice everyday after school from 6 to 8pm. You need to make time to get some things done. By the way, did you get any batting practice in today? and did you take out the garbage?

So, when there is time, what do kids want to do and what do we allow them to do?

Richard Louv, author of a fascinating book, “Last Child In the Woods” pieces together what has been taking place over the years with our children. Not too long ago, kids ruled the countryside, building secret forts and treehouses, hunting frogs and fish, playing hide-and-seek in the woods, etc. However, over the past 30 years, Louv says children of the digital age have become increasingly alienated from the natural world, with disastrous implications, both physically (obesity) and also for their long-term mental and spiritual health. He coins the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” to describe kids and their lack of exposure to nature. In school, kids are taught about the Amazon rainforest’s endangered species but, are not encouraged to develop personal relationships with the world outside their own doors. Advances in technology have created tremendous “virtual” outdoor experiences however, it has also made it all too easy for kids to spend less time outside. Louv adds that sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally “scared children straight out of the woods and fields,” while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors “safe” regimented sports over imaginative play. To find out more about his book follow this link: Richard Louv’s Book

I tend to agree. I remember leaving home on a bicycle to go to Wilson Elementary School and I was to meet mom at the mall or at the ball park at 5pm to get a ride home at the end of the day. That was a long time for a grade schooler to be without adult supervision and there was no parenting via cell phone either. We think long and hard about that nowadays. As parents we have been taught to be afraid of leaving our kids alone or letting them roam around unsupervised for fear of the ever present stranger danger. In my case, mom knew that within five minutes of my abduction, a kidnapper would pay her to take me back.

Some of my fondest memories are times spent at my grandparents home in Nuuanu. Lots of lessons learned there. Their backyard was my entrance to the wild outdoors…Nuuanu Stream, Oahu Country Club and beyond. We’d wander for hours exploring the area all the while unsupervised. Mongoose, frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, swordtails, and rainbow guppies were abundant and there for the catching. We’d throw Duck Brand firecrackers in the stream and watch them blow up underwater. These were the potent firecrackers that would leave your fingers numb for hours if you didn’t throw it fast enough! Gung gung (grandfather) had heaps of yard clippings waiting for a pyromaniac with strike-anywhere cowboy matches. In the garage he had loads of scrap wood and cans full of rusty nails to build spearguns, slingshots, forts and ships. We’d nail tin cans to the wooden ship to resemble a smoke stack, then splash some gasoline in the can and light them on fire as they floated down the stream. Now that was exciting. That was where I first learned you can’t put out a gasoline fire with water and eyebrows eventually grow back.

Sometimes I’d go hiking up or down Nuuanu Stream with my sibs Kevin and Maile or cousins or neighbors exploring its meanderings and feeling connected to the wild outdoors. The smell of a warm tropical rain shower, the odoriferous scent of stream algae as I threw it on my sister’s shirt (because I missed her head), the oozing mud between my toes, the glistening sparkling water as it tumbled down a small waterfall and the sound of it splattering onto the rocks below. It was a great way to recharge my soul’s batteries and something all kids should have in some way, shape or form. Of course those regular adventures often took place on Sundays and it would culminate with a TV dinner watching Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Unfortunately, as Louv stated earlier, it seems kids today don’t have as many of these kinds of experiences and it’s an alarming trend throughout the U.S.

In his keynote address to the 73rd Annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, U.S. Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne stated that, “.. a fundamental truth of human nature is that people take care of that which they love and cherish. Today, we have a generation growing up in America that is more urbanized and more computerized. The closest many children get to nature is the screen saver fish swimming across their computer screens.”

That’s a sad state of affairs for our wild places. Who will care about the fish and wildlife and their habitats? and who will pay for it? For many years it has been hunters and anglers who’ve paid for the majority of fish and wildlife conservation with their license, tag and stamp fees and excise taxes on certain sporting goods (archery, firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, etc.). This group is declining in numbers throughout the nation and fish and wildlife agencies are scrambling to reverse the trend while also coming up with other means to manage fish & wildlife resources. It’s a complex issue with no quick fix. It’s such a concern that National Geographic has seen fit to shed light on this serious issue. Follow this link to see it: National Geographic – Hunters For Love of the Land

A year ago I received a phone call from a distressed parent who was inquiring about a youth deer hunt that his son had drawn and was wondering if it was worthwhile going on. He explained that his son was on the verge of giving up hunting as it didn’t hold his interest very well. He related that earlier in the year, he took his son to the Steens Mountains for a trophy buck hunt (a pretty desirable hunt to draw). They would walk along ridges and look for bucks in ravines and rocky ledges. However, his son didn’t relish the anticipation of finding a buck as they scanned the hillsides with binoculars. Taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the majestic Steens and the smallness one feels when in its presence had no hold on his son. What his son wanted was instant gratification. Something that was more in his control like an X-Box where he could push a button and have an immediate response. Like the drive thru fast food windows all around us, people today want things quickly because we’re all in a hurry and can’t wait. Anything less promotes boredom and sometimes ill will. I didn’t know what to say to him. All I could do was tell him that there were good numbers of deer in the area and that they should have a great time hunting the area together. I never found out if they went on that hunt. Maybe they did and junior tossed a hunting video game in his backpack to pass the time while dad glassed for deer…

This year Jacob drew the same youth hunt as the kid mentioned above. It was a late season black-tailed deer hunt held in November for three weeks in an area about 15 minutes from our house. Our first day out was during heavy showers and fog. I called it the “monsoon hunt” as we got thoroughly soaked. The heavy pitter-patter of rain falling on leaves concealed any noise we might make moving through the woods. Slipping along slowly and stealthfully requires great patience and faith that the next step may reveal an unsuspecting deer. It’s a hard thing to do all day long, slow movements and keeping the faith that Mr. Big is around the next corner. Towards the end of the day, Jacob’s footsteps got heavier and more rapid which made a little too much noise. A very large buck jumped out of a poison oak patch and took off never looking back. It was a valuable lesson. The time to care about your noise is not after you’ve been busted. By the end of the day we saw 19 deer, of which two were bucks.

Our next adventure afield was the day before Thanksgiving and the weather was overcast and cool with no rain. We left the truck at 7:55am and started up the same trail one foot in front of the other. This time there was no pitter-patter to cover the sound of our footsteps. It would require more stealth. I was amazed that Jacob was actually moving through the woods very quietly. Every few steps we would stop, listen and look for any signs of deer. We had several groups of does and yearlings cross the trail in front of us and were unaware of our presence. Two hours later, we inched around a corner and faced the same place we spooked the large bedded buck on our previous trip. Jacob peeked over the south facing slope and hunkered back quickly with a whisper, “There’s a buck!” It was about 100 yards away in a small clearing within a large poison oak patch. We hurriedly stacked our backpacks to create a rest for his rifle. There was only a small opening to shoot through and if that buck moved in any direction it would be hidden from view. The forked horn black-tailed buck was pre-occupied scratching himself and looking back over his shoulder. He gave us just enough time to set-up. Due to the brush in front of us, Jacob couldn’t shoot from a prone position and chose to kneel. He told me he was going to take the shot and tried to calm his breathing down. I could hear him trying to calmly “blow out the butterflies”. It made me smile for I’ve been there too. There’s so much riding on this one moment of truth. All the time spent preparing for the hunt, reloading cartridges, practice shooting, getting equipped and packed, the early morning wake-up calls, tip-toeing around trying to locate an animal you want to take home, the rush of adrenaline you feel when you find that animal and the anxiety of losing the opportunity if you don’t hurry up and settle down. It all comes down to this one heavily weighted moment…a boy blowing off butterflies trying to hold his rifle steady so he can claim his prize.

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The Ruger rifle let out a CRACK and the buck lay motionless in a patch of leafless poison oak. I was so excited for Jacob that I gave him a high five hug and congratulated him on a terrific shot. His 2007 deer hunting season ended that morning at 10:45am on that hillside. However, we were still reeling with so much excitement buzzing around in our heads and hearts long after the shot. We pulled our sandwiches and jerky out of our packs and drank in the breathtaking North Umpqua River scenery below us. The flurry of emotions combined with the beautiful views all around us had a profound impact on us. Our soul’s batteries were getting recharged.

The whole experience was very personal, you can’t buy it in a bottle and there’s certainly no getting it from a video game. Not even close.

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Jacob’s late season black-tailed buck taken the day before Thanksgiving.

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20 Responses to “Things you can’t get from a video game”

  1. Terri said

    I hope Jeanine is making all these blog entries into a “Heritage” Book! Truely a blessed time in your lives!

    Like

  2. Fujioka ohana said

    Another awesome story. And I do mean AWESOME in every way. Jacob, *what* a shot and obviously an event which gives much to be thankful for. Blessings all!

    Like

  3. Cory said

    Way to go Jacob. His riffle is sure an upgrade from the beebee gun we had and he’s not shooting car tires with it.

    Like

  4. tutu said

    what a great Thanksgiving Day present…to bring home a black tailed buck! so-o-o proud of you, Jacob, and proud too of your Dad, the great story-teller/writer, and your biggest fan.
    mac and i are right up there too!!

    Like

  5. Brad said

    Wow! First Wyoming and a nice buck antelope and then 2 bucks in Oregon. You can’t get that out of a life time of video games…….. Todd, you are a fantastic father, writer, hunter, teacher and husband. Keep up the great work and most of all, let’s all enjoy our families and the great outdoors.

    Like

  6. Adam said

    Nice work. I appreciate how the two of you relish the moment. Too many times it is about “filling your tag”. The two of you are filling your lives, and I commend it. I am taking my daughter out on a coyote hunt soon. She is stoked. If we are not great Dad’s, who will be? Give my congrats to Jacob. He is a hunting machine. Adam.

    Like

  7. Aunty said

    Tod.
    I think you missed your calling. That’s a great piece of writing. But of course, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Loved it–even though I’m not crazy about the shooting.
    Love, Aunty diana

    Like

  8. bob said

    I’m taking alot of notes and saving all the adventures so that I can be able to give my son the opportunities that can be created. You are truely and inspiration. I love all the adventures and truely live it with your writings. Don’t Stop! Aloha, Bob

    Like

  9. John Peyton said

    Todd;

    What can I say? I’m proud of both you and Jacob and hope to have a similar story and picture with my two boys one day. You give me hope and inspiration to fulfill my life long dream of raising my children right and with the outdoors as part of their passion.

    -John P.

    Like

  10. EDSON said

    THANKS FOR THE VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE!!!!!!!

    Like

  11. Bob Hera said

    Aloha Todd,

    Congrats to Jacob again!! You always make me fill like I’m on this hunt with you. Brings back memories of my youngest son and I during our many hunts on the Big Island and Alaska. I’m waiting for my grandson to come home from Germany so we can continue our outdoor experiences on our island of Lana’i. Keep the stories coming. Love to all, malama pono, Bob..

    Like

  12. Mark Adkins said

    Tod, you talk story well. You and Jacob need to go on the road across America to be catalysts for parents and young hunters. I do not know the forum for this but I will keep an eye out for the opportunity.

    Like

  13. Aunt Janie said

    Tod-
    You are a good storyteller and I love your sense of humour, although I’m sure you have gotten in trouble with it over the years! We know where Jacob gets it!

    I can not imagine not getting to be outside as a kid. We spent as much time outside in Miami as we could. We ran around or rode bikes outside all day on weekends or after school until supper, with siblings or neighborhood kids, down by the canal in the sand and weeds, throwing tadpole larvae at each other, seeing the gators on the bank, climbing into the culvert or up in trees, swimming in the lake and having a manatee come up,swimming in the ocean and just messing around in boats- whether down the canals, out on the lake or fishing for grunts with Grandaddy Branam out in Biscayne Bay.
    I’m glad too that my kids had the experiences of growing up on Orange Lake where they tromped through the woods with the neighborhood kids and each other, building forts, playing around the fire with sticks, digging holes, and spending hours boating and fishing on the lake. Swimming in the 70 degree springs and boating/fishing/camping along the rivers in the area is something still enjoyed and a true paradise. also trips to the beach for swimming/surfing. (Sadly water quality in the oceans and rivers is changing from high nitrate runoff from agriculture, sewage and rampant overpopulation and development….don’t get me started on the developments that in a blink of an eye are replacing the cattle pastures, orange groves and the beautiful cypress wetlands!!)
    It is true that experiencing nature gives kids a much better sense of how we are connected to nature. I’m thankful that it keeps them interested in being in the outdoors, in caring for plants and participating in gardening and cooking with food we have grown or picked.
    Thanks for all your insights!
    Janie

    Like

  14. tutu m ac said

    Tod, your writing is kind of Mark Twain like and very wonderful. Your love of nature and the hunt are gigantic and your love for Jacob and family is beautiful to behold. Of course your humor is known around “our world”. We need you to keep us honest about the double edged sword of technical culture. You are a outdoorsman with a prophetic voice for all who will hear what is happening in our world. Change is part of life of course, but you are here to help us to wake up to what is nurturing, noble and filled with bliss. I think that you need to write a book (the kind you buy at Borders) and wow America. Love you Tod, Jacob, Jeanine, and Jessie. Awesome family. Love, Mac

    Like

  15. John W. said

    Excellent story Tod. I’d write a nice long reply, But I think I’d better stick to something I’m good at like e-mailing pictures.

    Like

  16. wendell said

    Tod and Jacob,

    Great experience that will resurface time to time as you both age and mature (or ripen). Just one of many past, present and future. Living the adventure in the first person has nothing comparable.

    But sandwiches and jerky for lunch?

    C’mon, it’s spam musubi to celebrate!

    Wendell

    Like

  17. jackie jeanines sister haha said

    todd cute story and i like when you told of the algae you threw on your sisters back well reminds me of the fake poop i thought was real in your grandparents yard.. and the rats in your old house in waimea ..ummmm….still at it …hahaha …good story thats what i like about the farm spencer gets to spend alot of time with his grandfather learning the true meaning of hard work and how they had to work hard in the crops growing, picking, just to put food on the table…hes been in the deer stand with his uncles i hope dwaines dad keeps that land 2o acres most of its tied into the family so the state cant touch it. the woods behind his acres they think someone may come in and buy it yuk… it wil scare the deer away…. anywhoo love the story and if i cld just get mason to be more of a woodsman !!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  18. Mike Hino said

    Aloha Jeanine, Brother Tod, and Jacob,
    Long time no see and smell. I miss you all very much. I understand your sentiments. I’m sadden that many of us do not feel the relationship between nature and our spirits and our spirits with nature, how one influences the other by the very nature of the others existence. Maybe this is one reason why we have developed the kind of relationship that we have with nature. I remember the many nights you and I along with our other friends spent up at Saint Louis Park, Tantalus, and the park by Dori’s house. I remember the sound of the wind rustling through the trees and clouds smoothly sailing by. Nature transcends our spirit and brings clarity to the realization that we are one.
    I hope that we all will find our way back to the house at Pooh corner.

    With Love
    Hino

    Like

  19. Hanaleia said

    Wow! That’s a pretty good buck there, way to go Jacob. So did Jacob take out the garbage?!

    Like

  20. Tod said

    Yes, garbage happens!

    Like

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