Outdoor Heritage Activities

  • Have been with us since the earliest days of civilization
  • Form the core of our understanding of the interface between man and nature
  • Accent our position in the ecology of the earth
  • Demonstrate our responsibilities within the natural world
  • Can provide life support needs to self, family and neighborhood
These Activities, foundation elements of the Outdoor Heritage Traditions, defined by the O'fieldstream position, are, in order of necessity for a balanced, responsible use, conservation and development of the natural resource are:
  • Wilderness Skills
  • Orienteering
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Archery
  • Snowshoeing
  • Skiing
  • Dogsledding
  • and all associated and/or supportive activities
Outdoor Heritage Activities, are not, despite the current marketing machine - Sport.  What a person does, in the conduct of an outdoor heritage activity, is definitely not in the same category, as the more commonly used sense of the word - sport - used  in today's society.  Sport, with regard to the various ball-type of activities, such as basketball, football, rugby, tennis, golf, hockey, soccer, etc. are purely entertainment oriented.

This is the very reason O'fieldstream encourages all participants who engage in the Outdoor Heritage Activities listed above, to avoid referring to these activities as - sport.

Sport, in an older era,  was use to apply to a very different temperament than exists today.  Our current understanding and execution of the word sport, applied to any confrontational interaction between humans and nature, is today vastly different than it was for our forefathers of even 100 years ago.

The most obvious difference may well be demonstrated by the common practice  - often seen as a moral imperative among 'former era sportsmen' -  of  fair-chase as applied to hunting.

Fair-chase was a gentlemanly code of conduct that,
"...defined as the ethical, sportsmanlike, lawful pursuit, and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals."
(Boone & Crocket and
This position presumes the conquest of an animal, while also  pointing out the need for a higher-purpose:

the intimate knowledge of the man-nature-relationship through the pursuit of such outdoor activities as hunting, fishing and other such wilderness skills.

Thus, the participation in a heritage activity resulted in educational, as well as a tactile opportunities, to learn the close, intimate elements of  nature's day-to-day life pulse.  Teaching and instructing the participant in practical,  how-t0 activities was - and still is - the base purpose that goes far beyond the kill. The heritage of hunting is not about the kill.  It is about all the activities that lead up to and including the kill.

Passing on the knowledge of such heritage activities as hunting and fishing were necessary tools for general survival in early times.  But as society became less dependent on these heritage activities to provide daily needs for survival, they are now, primarily, pursued in recreational terms.  The transition from survival to recreational has pointedly revealed the need for specific, focused education on future generations.  If they are to receive the same valued education in the heritage activities; to be valued as a means of civil action and appreciation for the natural resource;  we, today, must lay the groundwork for such educational channels and provide the effort necessary to insure its success.

It is a grave misnomer to believe the early days of our forming societies were without confusion and miseducation in the use of the natural resource. The Good Old Days were filled with a great deal of destruction and carnage. Often times abuse of the resource was promoted for the sake of personal gain much as it is today. Many of the Good Old Days were really not all that good at all.
Unfortunately, not much has changed.
We often find ourselves attempting to operate from within the notions and expectation of other extreme-swings in public opinion.  The result is our effort is still suffering from being stuck in the old ditch-of-the-extreme. We're either steeped in over-consumerism or over-protectionism. Balance, being the goal, is a state in which we never quite seem to be stable enough to maintain.

It's the same in the natural world. So why should our attempts to provide balance be any different?

O'fieldstream does not oppose recreational enjoyment within the use of the natural resources. Quite the contrary, we encourage it. We encourage it to be undertaken along with a high-level of education, responsibility and accountability - by each person or persons involved - for every action taken within the natural resource arena that impacts the resource.

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