With the recent news surrounding Jeff Foiles and the world of waterfowling, I was very pleased to see each of the celebrities who spoke at the DownRiver Outdoors Annual Celebrity Youth Waterfowl Hunt address hunter ethics during their presentation.
Most notably was Tim Grounds.
For those of us who have been around a day or so, especially those of us in the Southern Illinois area we can remember the days when Tim was a different person. We remember the days when Tim had his own difficulties with violations that cost him his hunting privileges for a period of time. Grounds made no bones about it when he spoke to youth. He shared with them mistakes that he had made, and that those mistakes had cost him dearly. He also shared with the youth that since those early reckless outlaw days he has learned not only the importance of fish and wildlife codes, but also the reasons they are in place.
“Your hunting license is privilege. “ Grounds told the youngsters at the hunt. “It’s not a right, and one foolish act can rob you of that privilege. “ Grounds went on to explain to the young folks that he wanted to apologize for the mistakes he had made many years ago, and feels that those that can learn from their mistakes and go on to teach others right from wrong will prosper. Grounds explained that he now dedicates his time to the education of young and old, alike, on the ethics of hunting.
Grounds not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. As tired, cold and worn out as he was upon arriving for the youth hunt held the 12th and 13th of December he remained gracious and attentive to each young hunter. Patient with questions, giving with his time and expertise, he spent time one on one with each young hunter that shyly approached him. He was indeed righting the wrongs.
With grace, humor and a dose good ol boy charm he held the youngsters in rapt attention as he explained how anyone of them could be a champion caller with dedication and practice. He stressed ethics, safety, and the importance of enjoying everything about waterfowl hunting.
“Hunting is far more than just killing something” he told the young hunters, “It’s about conservation, the time you spend enjoying the company of other hunters, the time you spend in the great outdoors watching and listening to all the wonderful resources God has given us.”
Each of the young hunters who attended the annual youth hunt left with a little more confidence, a little better understanding of why fish and wildlife codes exist, and a clear sense of what’s ethical in waterfowl hunting and what isn’t thanks to the honesty of Tim Grounds, and his willingness and dedication to righting a long forgotten wrong.