I’ve got a couple of friends who like to hunt only public land, if at all possible. They prefer this because they don’t like asking permission to hunt or fish. I’ve always believed the best fishing and hunting is on private ground.

It seems to me that it generally is less crowded. There is added effort required in gaining permission to hunt private ground. Thank God I have some farmers who I now consider friends who allow me access to their ground. I’m sure every one of these farmers have passed on opportunities to lease their ground.

With that being said, we need to treat the farmer – and even more so, his land – with the utmost respect. I try to send out thank you notes once a year to my farmer friends. I also try to give them a small gift of deer sticks or homemade jelly. I know it’s not nearly enough, but it’s a small token to try and show how much I appreciate the gift they’ve given me.

I try not to drive on their property unless necessary, and then get permission to do so. I never litter or leave gates open. I try not to park in a place where it will bother the farmer, either in blocking a gate or road.

We’ve all probably lost access to land because of other people’s actions. I’ve never liked it, but it’s a fact. We’ve all been grouped together as hunters or fishermen. We’ve been told that no one can have access to this land because, “you hunters or fishermen littered or left a gate open.” I always thought this was unfair because it wasn’t me.

That’s why I ask all to do “the right thing.” I used to think that I can’t clean up others’ mistakes, but there are a few things we can do. If we’re out on private or public land, we can pick up trash if we see any.

I believe if others see you picking up trash or doing the right thing, it will have more of an impact than preaching to them or scolding them. They would just become defensive and wonder what makes you so “holy” that you can tell them what to do. And they’re right in the fact that no one’s perfect. We’ve all made mistakes; we’re only human.

I guess I’m trying to look toward the future so my son and his children will have places to go to enjoy the outdoors. We’d better try to do what’s right today.

I guess in closing, I’d like to thank all those landowners who still let others enjoy the great outdoors. I’d also like to thank all those in Wildlife and Parks who work to allow public land to be enjoyed by all of us.

May God bless you all, and get out and enjoy the great outdoors whenever possible. It is never time wasted.

Rick Cunningham is an avid outdoorsman from Ellis.