Some might say I have lived fast and hard. And now that I am in my 60s, with the way I feel sometimes, I might agree.
Groucho Marx once said, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
Back in Civil War days, if one lived to 50, that was quite an accomplishment. It is not uncommon now for folks to live quality lives into their 90s.
But what if you lived for 500 years?
Would you do things differently? Would your outlook on life reflect a much longer life cycle?
Would recycling become a way of life, much more so than just a token effort? Could you support all the grand and great-great-grand kids you’d accumulate? Would you go broke buying birthday presents for family and friends?
In some ways, I think it would be great to live that long. Just think of all the hunting and fishing one could do.
I might spend my first century hunting squirrels. The second century I might devote to turkey hunting and maybe even whitetail deer.
For the next couple hundred years I might hunt elk, learn how to trap and just get into the mountain-man thing.
It might be fun to spend 20 or 30 years each in Africa, Alaska, South America, the Caribbean, or even a decade or two fishing in Belize.
After that, I might devote the rest of my time to waterfowl hunting. I know – from many of my buddies who spend much of their time in duck blinds – it is a sickness for which there is no cure.
I might live my later years bird watching, whale watching or floating clear, fast and beautiful rivers.
That is assuming there would be animals to hunt and rivers to float.
OUT OF CONTROL
All across the globe, we have water shortages. Our natural resources, despite courageous efforts by many, are dwindling at an astonishing rate, and global warming might be more than just a debate.
In my lifetime, the world population has burgeoned and outdoor habitat has been shrinking. Zero Population Growth people (ZPG) and their type of thinking have fallen by the wayside, and clearly we are out of control.
Urban populations have risen to the point where more people are killing each other, and when I drive from St. Louis to the fringe of the Ozarks, it has become one huge suburb all along the way.
Those of you who know me know that I tend to cast to the brighter side of structure, however, and I believe it plausible just the opposite might happen should we get a few more years on Earth.
I know you would agree that there are wise men and women living among us right now – good people who fight for conservation, folks who have devoted much of their short lives in the pursuit of what is good and right.
If they lived 500 years, think of what they might accomplish.
• BIOLOGIST – Take Spence Turner, for example. Turner was a retired biologist from the Missouri Department of Conservation who passed recently. He was considered the godfather of wild trout management in Missouri and also responsible for much of the initial research that has dictated our special management sections for smallmouth bass.
He became a legend across the country for his findings and successes, and I wonder what he could have accomplished if he’d had a couple hundred more years to work on his projects.
• TURKEY GURU – How about the wild turkey guru, Ray Eye? Known across North America not only for his woodsmanship but for his efforts at recruiting new hunters, just imagine what he could do if he only had a few more centuries to ply his charm. How many more lives would he touch? How many more youngsters would share the outdoors adventure of a lifetime with this great man?
• SAFETY EDITOR – Outdoor Guide Safety Editor Bill Seibel helped write the book on hunter safety in Missouri, a state which has become the model for other wildlife agencies all across America. Seibel is a regular contributor to our magazine and always is looking for new and interesting ways to present hard facts about safe hunting and the proper way to use firearms.
• PIT BULL WATCHDOG – Joel Vance, another Missouri man and one who has distinguished himself over the years as one of the country’s top outdoor writers, for decades has led the fight to expose frauds, poachers and thieves.
Vance is an environmental watchdog of the pit bull variety. He is the journalist’s journalist. Give Joel Vance another three or four hundred years and I am sure there would be thousands more environmental pirates forced to walk his slippery plank.
• YOUNG LEADER – The Conservation Federation of Missouri is led by a young man who I know would wisely use a few more years, should God give them to him. In just three years, Brandon Butler has taken CFM to new heights, and a longer life might ensure our future as it relates to conservation.
• FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD MDC – And how about Missouri’s new director of the Department of Conservation, Sara Parker-Pauley? She is the first woman to lead the MDC. She just finished a stint as head of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The graduate from Missouri’s School of Journalism will accomplish much in the next few years, and who knows what she might accomplish with more years ahead of her?
Despite my misgivings, I could buy into the idea of living another three or four or five hundred years if these folks were in charge.
It is obvious we’re going to have to do the best with what years we’ve got – years, days, minutes, seconds. Tic…tic…tic…
Besides, if we lived for centuries, could we ever complain one bit if the cable company put us on hold for only an hour?