February is Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate their rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories as well as acknowledge the important contributions of the people who were here before we were.
Native Americans were the first conservationists. They didn’t waste any part of the game they hunted and gave thanks to the Great Spirit when they killed an animal to feed their families. They didn’t pollute the streams or the land. They taught their children to enjoy everything in the nature around them.
Those of you who read this column each week can probably tell I enjoy Native American sayings and the wisdom in their words that we could all do well to remember today. Here’s a Cherokee Parable about two wolves an old chief used to teach his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego. The other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you, my grandson, and inside all people.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Male wood frogs emerge from hibernation in February and brave the near-freezing water of ponds formed by melting snow, where they put out their loud duck-like mating call to attract females.
FISHING WITH RED STICK BAITS
A local conservation officer had become suspicious about a fisherman he had seen several times at the lake, and started watching him. He saw that the man would arrive at the lake and a short time later, he would return with a stringer full of fish, but he never had a fishing pole with him.
So one day, the conservation officer dressed up like a fisherman and approached the man. They exchanged pleasantries and the fisherman asked the officer in disguise to come fishing with him. They boated across the water for 15 minutes and arrived at a secluded spot. The fisherman then pulled out a stick of dynamite.
The officer said, "I'm going to have to place you under arrest. I am a conservation officer and you are fishing illegally!"
The fisherman calmly lit the stick of dynamite and handed it to the officer and said, "Are you going to talk or fish?"
HUNTING FOR DEER ANTLERS
Finding shed antlers in your hunting area in February and March can tell you a great deal about the number and quality of bucks you are likely to see during next hunting season. Look for them where deer are feeding, around water and where they have to cross fences or other obstacles. Brushy ravines are also a good place.
Deer sheds are all uniquely different. Once you get out and try it, you’ll be out there every year hunting for deer antlers.
NOW YOU KNOW WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN
In general, the larger a deer’s antlers, the higher its social status in the herd. However, the leader of the herd is usually an older doe and not the biggest buck.
NATIVE AMERICAN QUOTE
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
- Standing Bear
Larry Whiteley was born and raised in Nixa. He was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in honor of his more than 40 years of communicating the great outdoors all over the world through his outdoor articles and radio shows.