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Celebrating outdoors mentors

I DECIDED MANY YEARS AGO that I wanted to share the outdoors with people. The outdoor world has been such a large part of my life that I felt compelled to give back by writing for magazines and my website. That incredible journey has helped me meet many great people who read my work. This is a story about one such meeting at a boat ramp on Kentucky Lake. Cool temperatures and sunny skies were the perfect setting to share stories and learn more about Matt Miller’s uncle and mentor—an unsung hero of the outdoors.

My conversation with Matt, who lives in Louisville, began on social media. He told me about his late uncle, Bruce Helm, who had been a die-hard fisherman and bait tinkerer like me. As the conversation continued, Matt sent me a photo of his uncle, and I immediately recognized Bruce from a conversation that I’d once had with him at the very boat ramp where Matt and I would later meet for a few hours of crappie fishing. After we agreed to meet at the lake, Matt told me that it would be an emotional time for him. His uncle had left him all his fishing gear when he passed. 

If there’s one thing I have learned through this journey as an outdoor communicator, it’s just how many great outdoors men and women never seek or receive notoriety or fanfare, but who mean so much in the lives of younger people. There is probably one such mentor in your family or circle of friends. I have my own outdoor heroes in my dad and my grandfather. 

Bruce, and people like him, are a wealth of information. They are responsible for passing down knowledge and traditions to future generations. Matt’s story isn’t the first of its kind that I have encountered since becoming an outdoor writer. So many young people have shared stories about their own mentors. It gives me hope that these heroes of the outdoors will be remembered by those whose hearts they have touched, and that younger folks will pass down the many lessons they’ve learned. When they do, they might find they have become mentors themselves.

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