The Traditional Outdoorsmen in the Modern World


outdoorsmenArticle contributed by Editor in Chief J. Townsend.

For many people the life of a person who loves the outdoors seems very foreign. More often than not the individuals on the outside of this passion look at this lifestyle with confusion. They ask, “Why subjugate yourself to the harshness of the outdoors when life can be so comfortable?” This question is often answered with a smile from the outdoorsman or outdoorswomen to which it is queried. There are many aspects of this lifestyle that are difficult to explain because they are feelings that come from deep inside that person. This is my attempt of wrapping my love and my motivations into a tightly wound and digestible ball so that those on the outside can understand why I prefer a quiet peaceful valley over a bustling shopping mall any day.



First and foremost, I am a person who loves tradition. My grandfather taught me many traditions which involved lessons such as how to shoot a rifle or which water was drinkable in the wilderness. You see, my family is steeped in traditions that date back and have been in practice for centuries. We have thrived on the frontier, on the battlefield, and in the heart of the wilderness following these traditions. I am an American Indian (Choctaw), English, Irish, and French mutt whose family has always braved danger and battled the odds to fulfill that sense of adventure and survival. I am reminded of the great path which my family traveled to bring me into this world each time I pick up a novel about some epic journey or a biography of some great adventurer. It is partially my responsibility to keep this epic story alive and to add my own tales to my family’s saga.



We all have goals in life and these goals are what define the direction we choose to travel. I too have my own goals. I seek to learn about the world in which I live. I yearn for the knowledge that is found outside of the four walls of my house. I love to inspire and teach others to live life outside of their normal comfort zone. I have discovered and experienced so much following this concept. By saying “why not” instead of “why” I have opened doors which I believe would have never been opened. Life is something that you only have on shot at so I try to make everyday a new adventure, either big or small. It is easy to slip into some mundane routine which you grow to accept. I often get frustrated with myself if I burn up a day walking around a mall looking at “stuff” when I could be outside, away from the congestion, living an experience, while fishing, hunting, or exploring. The thought of waking each day with the opportunity to explore the unknown and to seek new adventure excites me beyond description.



Do you know where you food comes from? I do! I know from the instance of shooting or catching the animal whose hands will touch the food my family eats. I trust in what I am able to see with my own eyes and I know that my family gets fresh untarnished food. I prefer to harvest my food from the wild instead of buying it at the supermarket. I am not trying to discredit the farmers or ranchers. I was born into that community in a small rural town in Southeastern Oklahoma. My family is full of farmers and ranchers. BUT…. Most of what you buy in the grocery store does not come from their farms. It comes from large corporate farms who are like any other business and will cut corners to make a profit. Do you cut corners with your food? I think not… you are like the rest of us and want good food that will benefit your body. I think about this when I hold a package of chicken in the store. I prefer my meat wild and truly organic.



One of my earliest memories as a baby is of camping on the beach at Padre Island, Tx. I remember waking up and seeing the inside of the tent. Outside I could hear the waves crashing softly against the sand. I could feel the sunlight’s warmth penetrating the walls of the tent. I could feel the tent inhale and exhale as the sea breeze passed. That memory is so comforting to me even now. I love waking up in a tent and unzipping the door and just peering out at whatever natural beauty lies outside. It can be on the side of a mountain, on the beach, or in a deep wooded valley. Each and every scenery is breathtaking when you take that first look each morning. As I spend more and more time away from civilization I have grown to love how simply awesome life and nature can be in its raw form. Most times a photograph can do only slight justice to the natural sights that take your breath away.


I love my wife and daughter more than anything on this earth. I want nothing more than to spend time with them, protect them, and provide for them. As a father and husband this is my major responsibility. Many people see danger in the outdoors and grow scared of the unknown that lies just past the city limit sign. I see a platform of education, for wholesome family fun, and for simple memories that can last a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, the outdoors can be dangerous but you can enjoy everything in a responsible manner. I grew up in the outdoors and I learned to conquer much of my fears and gained a large amount of confidence because of those outdoor experiences. These experiences and confidence are something I find vitally important to pass to my children who I wish to also be strong, confident, and fearless. I want them to experience the outdoors in the fun and remarkable way that I recognize and love.



As challenging as hunting and fishing often seem they are fairly simple in their foundations. You can, hypothetically, take a gun, walk into the wilderness, shoot an animal, build a fire, cook it, and eat it. The whole process can be simple or complex based on your intentions. Let’s face it, life these days are fast paced, distracting, and complicated. Much of the technology which has been created to add simplicity has distracted many people. I say this with a slight chuckle as you are only able to read this article because of technology. I seek out the outdoors because in its simplicity I do not feel the need to check my phone every five minutes. I don’t have to hear music blaring, cars driving down the highway, or the general noise. I can just let my batteries recharge and relax in the simplicity of the moment.

All in all, being a traditional outdoorsman in the modern world is challenging for most. These people, and often myself, rely on others to bring their adventures to us versus getting outdoors on our own. Many have become “armchair outdoorsmen or outdoorswomen”. They simply learn about other people’s experiences outdoors instead of getting out on their own.  This is my challenge to you all. Put the phone down, turn off the TV and computer, strap on your hiking boots, grab your rifle or fishing pole, and head outside. You will never know what experiences lie out of those doors unless you take that step into the forest.


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Justin Townsend

Justin (Choctaw) is an avid hunter, angler, and chef whose passion for the outdoors lead him to create Harvesting Nature in 2011. He continues to hunt, fish, and cook all while sharing his experiences with others through film, podcasts, print, and with recipes. He also proudly serves in the United States Coast Guard.

One thought on “The Traditional Outdoorsmen in the Modern World

  • We continue to enjoy your posts. We’ll add one more reason… a driving force that makes many of us feel great about being outdoorsmen and harvesting our own fish, game, berries or whatever. Responsible, ethical outdoorsmen take a back seat to no one when it comes to ensuring that the natural world we love remains intact for our sons and daughters and all future generations. Every time we purchase a gun, ammunition, fishing equipment and so forth, a percentage of the added on taxes go toward preserving and enhancing wilderness areas. Our fishing and hunting licenses do the same. A wild area that doesn’t have sportsmen looking after it is a wetland waiting to be drained, a river waiting to be diverted, a forest waiting to be clear-cut or a grassland waiting to be plowed. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of our passion… that people who (we think) intend good for the environment often want to ban hunting and fishing. People talk about preserving biodiversity, but at the end of the day, it’s often Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and similar groups that are in the trenches fighting to keep wild places wild. And who are the members of these groups? Fishermen and hunters.
    All your other points are on target as well. Our 25 year old daughter still connects every year with us to go fishing, and while hunting doesn’t mesh with our work schedules right now, it will again in the future and we look forward to that. And after you’ve dined on venison or caribou stroganoff or fresh-caught salmon, or jam from berries you harvested yourself, it’s hard to go back to store-bought. The simplicity, the beauty, the adventure… We get that not everyone is into all this. That’s why they make ice cream in more than one flavor, and to each their own. But there is something so satisfying about being out there, in it, knowing exactly where your food came from, wasting none of it, and sharing that experience over and over again every time you sit down to a smoked salmon pizza or whatever else is on the menu – meals that bring out conversations about shared memories and good times together.


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