Many American states tout themselves as fishing and hunting paradises, and with good reason. There’s a lot of "great outdoors" across our vast nation.
And although you may not think of fields and woods and streams as tourism magnets, we know a lot of people who pack up the family - or a group of friends - and head off to, say South Dakota to hunt pheasants, or Tennessee to go after trophy bass.
But when it comes to promoting their state as an outdoorsman’s - or woman’s - paradise, we have to hand it to the Midwest state of Missouri. Two huge and famous rivers the Mississippi and the Missouri as well as hundreds of their tributaries, flow through or beside it. And Missouri’s Ozark Mountains are loaded with game.
The state does not leave it to parents to recruit and reward future generations of hunters and fishers. It proudly presents commemorative "First Turkey" and "First Fish" certificates to young hunters and anglers.
"Shooting that first turkey is a landmark event in a young hunter's life," writes the Missouri Department of Conservation in a news release. The "First Turkey" or "Fish" program, it says, "helps turn such milestones into mementoes."
Well, why stop there? How about a "First Squirrel" Certificate? Or a "First Worm Successfully Threaded on a Hook" or "First Log Reeled in By Mistake" Award? The last two experiences are milestones for every new angler.
The best, though - especially for scouts and summer campers - would be a "First Snipe Certificate." "Snipe hunts," in which camp counselors send kids into the scary woods at night with stones to bang together to attract the elusive snipe, and bags in which to bring it back alive, are a youth-camp tradition. A source of great fun for the counselors, too.
There is such a thing as a snipe; it’s a shorebird, and it IS hard to catch. But THIS snipe is imaginary, so if a Missouri kid could bag one, he or she would really have EARNED that First Snipe Certificate.