Television offers us a glimpse at far-away natural wonders

ColumnistJune 15, 2017 

You might not expect a naturalist, an outdoorsman and a lover of the good old days like me to brag on television.

It is a two-headed creature, one head the ugly epitome of evil, and the other a beautiful invention showing us the creation of God that my ancestors could never see nor comprehend from just a spoken or printed word. I ignore most of what television offers, but I often sit glued to a screen when it takes me where I could never go, and teaches me about what I could never have imagined.

For that reason, I think television can be a great thing for those who want to learn about the boundless numbers of living things found in far-away places. And it can be wonderful for kids who never see much of anything but the creation of man, trapped inside a concrete world, crowded with people and automobiles.

The channels where you find those awesome films are varied, British Broadcasting, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and others. One I found not long ago is a channel produced by Brigham Young University.

I encourage you to watch them when you are inside for any reason. All the naturalists out there need to see this unbelievable modern day miracle of photography from some of the best photographers out there. It makes me wish that when I was young I had gone that direction with my love of the outdoors.

I also get a kick out of seeing old television shows from my boyhood, like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” and the old Westerns. Are there any modern television shows that even make you want to watch them, filled with the debauchery of modern times? Are there any modern-day stars who compare to Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason or Bob Hope?

The old time movies and television shows needed a few good naturalists as advisers. I saw John Wayne shooting pheasants once, supposedly in a time when those birds didn’t exist in this country. Some show about Billy the Kid showed pheasants flushing where there should have been prairie grouse, and once I saw a grizzly bear in a movie set in Kentucky.

Fess Parker made a great Daniel Boone, but I would have loved to tell them that having him packing around tanned furs didn’t look convincing at all. Furs taken by ol’ Daniel would have been bloody and stiff, thrown over his shoulder. And there wouldn’t have been any arctic fox hides among them, as I often saw.

In the Westerns of that time, you could be shot in the shoulder by a Colt .45 or a 30-30 Winchester and be up and around in just no time at all, ready to fight the bad guys again. The bad guys fell stone dead in just a second and you often didn’t see any blood at all. That just wasn’t the way it was. When Matt Dillon took a bullet in vital areas, somehow Doc and Kitty were able to save him!

But mostly I object to the fact that in the old movies, they got the natural world really goofed up. Not today though, with those nature films that show places like Alaska and New Zealand and the Australian outback, or the depths and coral reefs of the Atlantic Ocean. The jungles and wild creatures of Africa or South America, I can see and learn about.

My grandfather never knew about them except from the stale black and white photos in magazines and books he read by lantern light in his little cabin. Would he have ever been awe-stricken if he could have seen those films!

So I urge you to find those channels and watch them with your kids and grandkids, and stay away from CNN and NBC and CBS and channels like those.

I hope you find them and watch. There is another world far beyond the Ozarks that we will never get to see and appreciate any other way, and those places and those living things are awesome.

If you would like to inquire about getting our new summer magazine or one of my books, just call my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, at our executive office on our executive phone. The phone number is 417-777-5227. Or you can write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, or email me at lightninridge@windstream.net

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