The sport of hunting remains strong in the Bayou State because families make it a priority.

Earl Darby Jr. and Kamyrn Hatton were recognized as the 2015 Male and Female Youth Hunters of the Year back in August at the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Conference.

Earl’s grandparents, Rhonda and Arden Delahoussaye, make sure Earl enjoys hunting each season. As a grandparent with grandsons who hunt and fish, I can relate to the effort his grandparents put forth to make sure Earl enjoys a quality hunting experience.

Kamryn’s parents, Angel and William Hatton, also have a desire for Kamryn to enjoy the great outdoors, and she has become a very proficient deer hunter.

I expect both of these young hunters will enjoy hunting each year with their families, keeping the hunting tradition alive.

If hunting is to survive in this country, it will be because families think it is important and will do what it takes to keep it going.

For many years now, the Baby Boomer generation has carried the ball, as far as the sport of hunting is concerned. Boomers have spent many dollars in the past 30-plus years to ensure they have quality outdoor experiences for themselves and their families.

The desire and dedication to make this happen was made possible by our parents — the Greatest Generation — who paid for the wildlife restoration work done following WWII.

This generation passed along a love and passion for hunting and fishing in the outdoors to the Boomers, who have continued to make it a priority and pay for game and non-game management work.

As the time of the Boomers comes to an end, it will be up to the next two generations to keep the tradition alive. I am not sure we have done a very good job in conveying how important this is to our children and grandchildren.

The world in which we live has become highly technical and advanced. The rural landscape in which we grew up has been replaced with an urban landscape, and the passion we had for hunting has been replaced with one that is watered down — a take-it-or-leave it attitude.

Most of us had to go hunting when the season opened: Now the attitude is that I will go if there is nothing else to do.

But now is the time to continue to work hard to make sure the hunting tradition continues.

The seasons have opened and the hunt is on. November is the month for managed deer hunts on the wildlife management areas.

Most areas offer excellent youth hunting opportunities, so let me encourage you to take advantage of these if you do not have family land to hunt on.

There are plenty of opportunities for youngsters to experience the outdoors with small game hunting. My 6-year-old grandson William and I enjoyed the September dove season, and made hunts on every Saturday. William participated in the work done prior to the season with the preparation of the dove field.

Two-year-old John also participated in converting the September dove field to a winter/spring wildlife field with wheat, clover, winter peas and a few other forages.

Hopefully, once I depart this earth, the desire to manage our property for wildlife and hunting will continue as these boys they grow older. Their father is a hunter and, no doubt, they will be keeping the hunting tradition alive in our family.

My youngest son Ruffin is a hunter and, while his work keeps him busy during the season, he still makes sure we have a few father/son hunts. A new tradition we started last year was a father/son fishing trip on his birthday.

Last year, we had an outstanding trip to our relative’s lakes in Desoto Parish, and Ruffin was very much looking forward to two days of fishing. Unfortunately, the record flood forced him to move out of his apartment on the day we were to leave and caused us to get a late start on our trip. 

We arrived at the property around 10 p.m., and I immediately drove to the lake and rigged him up with a Ribbet. Within a few casts, Ruffin was fighting fish. We put a few largemouth in the ice chest before we stopped for the night.

The next morning, it was fish on from the start, with Ribbets and worms being the tickets for largemouth. My dad never liked fishing with plastic worms — he preferred the top water baits — but I have no doubt he would have loved the Ribbet.

Ruffin and I enjoyed a good time of fellowship and fishing, and I know he is ready to go again. We kept a nice mess of bass for a family cookout, and released several 4-, 5-pounders and one 6-pound lunker to grow larger.

Hopefully this is a tradition we will keep going for many more years. Have a good November season, be safe and keep the hunting tradition alive.