You don’t need to be a parent to understand that kids can get very protective of their toys. Sit down at any local café in our country, and it takes less time to realize we adults don’t have anything to brag about when it comes to humility and sharing either. Now throw in all the new trespass law discussions around the country, and you will realize this publication doesn’t have enough paper to even get started on the outline of the issues. Before you make a presupposition on what this article is about, let me assure you, you are wrong. I’m not taking or arguing a side of the trespassing argument.
This article is about perspective; however, and the repercussions of our perspective. I’ll be bringing up some points from many sides of discussions I have heard over the last year or so, just as examples to talk about. In fact, I’m going to start this article with the conclusion. “We don’t control Mother Nature.”
I don’t blame you for thinking “Geremy, you have a screw loose,” especially if you live in the Dakotas and the Rockies. Growing up in North Dakota, we pride ourselves on our state’s views on property rights. This naturally causes a rift with active anglers and hunters who’ve seen a growing limitation of accessible land. Throw in the growing requirements of federal agencies to finally start enforcing rules that have been on the books for decades. I feel it’s fair to say most people are confused, frustrated, and getting madder by the day.
I recently have seen multiple videos of land owners threatening to kill anglers for trespassing who are floating public rivers and creeks while fishing. This hits home for me because of the day a land owner came after me with a baseball bat, while I parked in a public parking spot to hunt clearly marked public land. It was a little disconcerting to say the least. As a farm kid, I also understand the frustrations of having to clean up after someone who has made a mess of our property and know others who have had damaged gates and fences that cost money to fix. If these were the only two variables in this situation it may be an easier discussion, but they are not.
We all know someone with a very compelling story about the guy who stole their secret hunting or fishing spot. We’ve all seen people get mad because someone else was fishing too close or the wrong way. This last summer I was on the water with some friends and one of them was incapable of having any fun because of the vicinity other anglers came to our boat.
I’ve also sat in a group of farmers as one of them was red faced about what farming practices the neighbors were using on their own land and how that would affect the deer on his land. Let’s not forget there are tons of opinions about fee hunting and fishing out there too.
I think I’ve gotten everyone's blood pressure up and for the record that’s not my goal. It is however, the reaction most people seem to have about now in the discussion. Think about this with me for a little bit before you give up on this article. The mindset that all of the above have in common is ownership and fairness. It’s human nature to get angry when we feel that something is unfair or that our ownership is not being respected and as we have discussed there is no shortage of this sentiment out there.
One of the lessons we have all, at least, experienced in the outdoors, is that Mother Nature is not fair and at the end of the day we as humans can only dream about controlling her. For me this has been made very evident when I’m out on fire assignments in the Rockies. One day I witnessed a very naïve agency administrator look at our incident commander and the operations folks as he pointed at a border on the map and said, “You can’t let the fire cross this line!” I almost laughed out loud…and I almost bled to death biting my tongue so I wouldn’t react.
As I thought about it however, I realized most people no longer understand the power of Mother Nature. Most of us have also lost the perspective that we are conservators of the land but cannot control it. This was made evident last year in my home state with a severe drought and the subsequent large die off of whitetail deer. Coming up in March and April this truth will be made evident again when the annual winterkill report comes out with the list of lakes that selective harvest no longer mattered because all the fish are dead. As my incident commander told that agency administrator that day, “Mother Nature bats last.”
For me, what I’ve learned over the years is, in reality, the things I own are gifts I get the opportunity to manage. The more selfish we get with those gifts the meaner we get. The more selfless we are with those gifts the more relationships are made, the more people are helped, the more people are spared of negative outcomes. I’ve also learned that gifts have to be accepted. What I’ve learned is that regardless of others’ actions and opinions, when I daily choose to respect others and put them before myself, I get the gift of joy and am not stuck with the curse of anger. When it’s all said and done, I’ve learned that it’s not about what’s mine, but the perspective of how we can all enjoy the gifts and struggles together.
Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, author, FCA Outdoors ND director, tournament director, video producer, wildfire consultant, and proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle & Secrets to Fishing.