Fisheries & Fish Industry

Josh Rouse: Hunting, fishing rights important; so are others

Josh Rouse: Hunting, fishing rights important; so are others

Voters last Tuesday approved an amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would add protections for the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers to continue enjoying their lifestyle. While the necessity of such a bill isn’t certain, I’m nevertheless happy that the voters have decided these people’s rights are important.

But in the afterglow of an ugly, divisive presidential election, several unsavory parts of society have reared their ugly head — racism, bigotry and hate. On the right, Nazi swastikas and derogatory epithets have shown up in schools and graffiti, while on the left anti-Trump protests have turned violent.

The great thing about hunting and fishing is that anyone can do it, regardless of their race or religion. The outdoors can help people of different world views and cultures bond in a way that few things in this world can.

I remember once seeing an old, white man fishing on a dock on a public pond one day when a group of young black children came up to the dock to join him. The old man gave the children a look of distrust as they approached, but after the children started casting into the pond and getting excited about fishing, his expression softened and he even started to chuckle. The kids weren’t particularly experienced at fishing, not like the old man anyway. They didn’t get a lot of bites, but the few they did get excited them to no end.

After catching a small catfish on the pole, I noticed the old man watching the kids again. When they had their backs turned, he cast out his line again with the catfish still attached. The bobber moved slowly back and forth in the water, showing the fish was still attached. The old man got up and walked over to the youngest child.

“Can you watch my pole for me while I get something out of my tackle box?” he asked the boy.

“OK!” the child responded, a bit nervous but excited to help out the quiet old man.

The man walked over to his tackle box and started rooting around in there, on a search for nothing in particular, when he turned to the boy and shouted, “Looks like you’ve got a bite!”

The boy jumped up and yanked the pole up, then looked to hand it back to the old man. He just smiled and shook his head “No.”

“You hooked him, he’s yours to catch!” he chuckled.

The boy fought with the catfish, struggling to reel a pole that was as big as he was. Eventually, he managed to get the fish on the dock, grinning from ear to ear.

The old man picked up the fish, popped the hook out of its mouth and threw it in the kids’ fish bucket.

“Good catch,” he said, and he picked up his tackle box and went home.

Yes, the right to hunt and fish is an important one. It has the power to heal all sorts of wounds. But it’s not the only one.

Love one another, and treat each other with kindness. We have no room in this country for the type of hatred that consumed Germany in the 1930s and ’40s, the tyrannical kind that the U.S. fought against in World War II. Regardless of your political affiliation, remember the type of sacrifice our veterans made to keep that kind of hate out of this country — after all, Friday was Veterans Day. Be good to each other and remember what makes America truly great, now and always, is the belief that all people are created equal.

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