I HAVE BEEN blessed during the entirety of my life. Practically from the time I was born, I had parents who rapidly and repeatedly introduced me to the joys of an outdoor life.

I had a mother who taught me how to make a pup tent out of an Army blanket so I could camp in the outdoors, about 4 feet from a living room window, when I was 5.

I had a dad who unknowingly at the time ensured I would have a lifelong love affair with ducks and geese when he brought them home from a hunt, plopped them on our porch, and left them for me to touch their feathers and absorb their beautiful colors.

My love of the outdoors has never wavered. From those humble beginnings came a lifetime of holding a fishing rod, shouldering a hunting gun and simply inhaling the scent of cedar along a trout stream while admiring all there is to experience of the outdoors.

Speaking of shouldering a rifle, when I was around the age of 10, my older brothers and I experienced a piece of the outdoors life which nearly prompted my mother to end ours. One day, while she ran to town for groceries, we decided that expending nearly all of a brick of .22 shells, 10 boxes of 50 each, was great fun indeed.

Trouble is, we decided to take aim at a piece of the outdoors that was a great source of pride and enjoyment for our mother. As we lay prone in the backyard shooting in the direction of the woods, we managed to shoot off probably at least a couple hundred blossoms from the flowers in her favorite bed. Never have you seen a 5-foot-tall woman evoke such fear in her young, strong sons as she proved she could do when she returned home and saw the carnage.

At an early age, I roamed the woods surrounding our house and that of my cousins who lived a mile down the road from us, for about a mile in diameter from either dwelling. We had sword fights with dead oak branches, climbed small ironwood trees which would parachute us to the ground when we neared the top and fought many sea battles from Battleship Rock, a huge boulder left behind from the last ice age which covered all of north Wisconsin.

We crick-stomped Rice Creek in search of water snakes and we hand-caught spawning suckers in shallow creeks in springtime, fighting wars by hurling said fish at exposed backsides of bent-over fellow fishermen.

Our mothers never worried when we spent mornings or even entire days out of their sight and sound, knowing that killer lions, tigers and bears were no match for hardy young lads.

We climbed tall oak and pine trees, having contests to see who could scale an 80-foot tree the fastest. Being the smallest and skinniest, I was hands down the winner in those competitions, though I’m sure my competitors would not admit it to this day.

Starting at the age of 8, we were allowed to take a boat from Millard Long’s resort on Plum Lake, he being the grandfather of my cousins, from which we launched many fishing and exploratory expeditions. Until we got to be about 11 or 12, we were restrained to the west end of “Big Plum” Lake and all of West Plum, which we from childhood ingloriously called “The Mudhole,” due to its bed of silt which we always figured ran clear to China.

We caught fish to supply Millard with the makings of a Friday night fish fry each week at the resort for departing guests, caught and used frogs for bass bait, and even came off the lake to try and woo winsome young lasses at the resort once we attained an age where we decided girls were nice to have around for purposes other than having them watch you swallow a worm.

Of course, as we grew older, our boundaries in the outdoors expanded. With licenses to drive and Honda 50s, we roamed afield to hunt partridges in favorite places miles from home. We fished lakes and streams farther and farther from home.

I savored chances to see more of the outdoor world. I drank in the beauty of the Brule, Cranberry and Sioux rivers up past Ashland during trout fishing trips with my dad.

During my years of college at Eau Claire I grew to appreciate the beauty of farm country where tracts of woods bordering fields made for fine deer, squirrel and partridge hunting. I learned that fishing rivers like the Eau Claire could produce nice catches, like the day I caught four muskies — two legal, two undersized — in a stretch between Fall Creek and Augusta.

Expanding my outdoors borders has been a lifetime passion. Whether it was climbing on 13,701-foot Cloud Peak and fishing trout in Wyoming, hunting elk and fishing trout in New Mexico, looking at hundreds of miles of Colorado country from the top of Pike’s Peak, hunting gobblers and deer in Tennessee within sight of the white cliffs Daniel Boone used to mark a trail into Kentucky or any of the other beautiful places in the outdoors I’ve seen, I’ve never outgrown my love affair with all that the wild side has to offer.

That affair will continue as long as I’m standing on my own two legs and able to cast a lure anywhere I go, pull up a shotgun at North Dakota ducks and geese or simply watch a sunset over Lake Superior.

A person could do no better.