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What is it about time that loves to taunt us so much?

When we’re young, we want the clock to tick faster. We want to turn 12 so we can go hunting. We want to drive. We want a beer.

But then, things change. We lay our head down one night, tears in our eyes, and pray it slows down.

I’ve been penning this column for over 12 years — a third of my life. The time has treated me well. I’ve met countless sportsmen … stood with them as they shared hundreds of pictures of trophies … got into some controversy … and met the true heroes of our sport.

But the time has come to hang up the pen. This will be the last column. That’s because, you see, I’m responsible for somebody else’s time.

Six years ago — just about the time the dust was settling on the state’s deer wars — my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. Two weeks ago, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. His answer slapped me across the face.

“I want more time with you,” he said without a hint of stopping to think.

It was on the tip of his tongue and on top of his mind.

With that, I knew it was time. The clock is ticking. Fast.

For well more than a decade now I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the vital importance of getting our youngsters outdoors. It’s been a golden thread woven through the words. Mother Nature needs the next generation.

Now it’s time for me to live those words. It’s time for me make good on my promise and focus on making sure the clock doesn’t run out.

As we look back on some 600 columns, it’s clear our sport has evolved. Twelve years ago, antler restrictions were tearing our ranks apart. Now, our bucks are bigger than ever before. A decade ago, we worried about a big, fat invasive catfish in the Susquehanna. Now, flatheads are a prized fishery.

Time has a way of working its magic. It’s up to us, though, to make sure we’re there when it happens.

As I set the pen down, I’ve got concerns about what lies ahead for our sports. Our ranks are dropping fast. We desperately need to show the next generation why it is we love to hear the creaking of the door as we step out of it. We need to show our kids why there’s more fun when the blue sky — not egg-shell white paint — is our ceiling.

Through it all, though, I am absolutely convinced there are more opportunities outside our collective back doors than ever before. Penn’s woods are in better shape than they’ve been in a century.

We have sportsmen to thank for it. It’s been a tremendous honor to get a front-row seat to watch it happen. Thank you. What an adventure it’s been.

I’ll finish much the same way I started. Get a kid outdoors. I am.

It’s about time.

This is Andy Snyder's final outdoors column for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at ahsnyder11@yahoo.com.

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