By Buckmasters Tip Editor Tim H. Martin
Photo: With its humor, life lessons, adventure and brilliant prose, Robert Ruark’s “The Old Man and the Boy” should be required reading. – Photo Courtesy Luke Noffsinger
The Buckmasters staff places a lot of emphasis on taking kids hunting and bringing them up in an outdoors lifestyle that instills values, virtues and proper life principals.
Next to the holy Bible, there is one book I believe every child should be encouraged to read, even if they are not raised as a country kid.
I was 12 years old the first time I read “The Old Man and the Boy” by Robert Ruark. Someone gave it to my father, but I cracked it open, gave it a peek and never put it down. That was in 1975, yet I still recall countless quotes, passages and lessons that have influenced my life on a daily basis.
You might say this was the first book on firearm safety — maybe even the first outdoors tip manual. Before there was such thing as a hunting safety course, Ruark’s writing gave me a deep respect for guns, knowledge of how to handle them responsibly, as well has how to be a gentleman when hunting with my peers.
Although written in 1953, “The Old Man and the Boy” is still relevant when it comes to delivering much-needed social values, outdoors adventure, and the foundations for simply being a decent person.
In this age of anything-goes media, nebulous moral choices and Play Station, our youth need this book more today than when it was written nearly 70 years ago.
If you are not familiar, “The Old Man and the Boy” is loosely based on Ruark’s personal experiences from his youth while being raised by his grandfather in rural coastal North Carolina in the 1930s.
The Old Man, a wise, eccentric and highly skilled woodsman, instills life principles in the boy while mentoring him in every subject from deer hunting to women, cooking fresh fish over a campfire, training quail dogs, literature, and safely crossing a fence with a firearm.
And the boy had many memorable adventures of his own. He found a dead man while fishing alone one summer, shot a HUGE Carolina buck in the fall, downed two Canada geese all by himself in the winter, and fought both saltwater and freshwater fish in the spring.
Your young person will also find chapters on duck hunting, catching bluegills with worms, and chasing fox squirrels with a .22 rifle, deep-sea fishing and an array of other cool activities.
It’s written from an adolescent’s point of view, making it readable by most 10-year-olds, but with smart enough prose to make readers of any age find impossible to put down.
I believe this should be required reading in our school systems, and ought to be regarded as timeless reading alongside other classics such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I sure enjoyed it more than Chaucer or Homer.
Please find a way to get “The Old Man and the Boy” into your youngster’s hands, whether through the public library or as a precious gift. It’s a book that could influence this child’s family for generations.
Editor’s Note: If you have a unique or special tip you’d like to share with Buckmasters fans, please email it to email@example.com and, if chosen, we will send you a cap signed by Jackie Bushman, along with a knife!
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