AGAINST ALL ODDS
After Being Taken Out Of Daycare At Age 2 To Fish, Hunting And Fishing Was In Tedric Johnson’s Future
story and photos by Ed Pratt, LDWF Public Information
How early did you have your first taste of fishing? Hunting? When did you hook that first fish? Did it give you a rush? Were you 4 or 5 years old? Was it later?
If so, Tedric Johnson has you beat.
Tedric, now 19, remembers the day he was minding his own business with his mates at daycare when his dad came in, swooped him up and took him fishing. “I was two years old,” he said smiling.
It has been one fishing trip after another since. And, hunting came around when he was 7 years old. The Zachary resident is now an outdoor veteran willing to teach young folks to do what he loves, hunting and fishing.
Simply stated, Tedric was one of those children, like so many in Louisiana, who were predestined to be in a boat or walk through the woods looking for prey.
The years in the woods and on lakes and rivers have been a ball, he said. Riding four-wheelers is a joy he loves to describe. “But seeing your parents doing it and having you follow in their footsteps is pretty good,” he said.
But, it’s the thrill of the hunt that gets the adrenaline flowing. “I like the peace, tranquility and the blood rush,” Tedric said. “Your oxygen level starts racing when you hear tree branches and leaves breaking and then when you see the deer in the cross hairs.”
Tedric is among 12,000 people who hold a resident basic hunting license and among 21,000 people who hold a resident basic fishing license who are under 20 years old in the state.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to increase the numbers of young people fishing and hunting. Tedric can’t think of much better things to do.
Sometimes Hunting isn’t about hunting at all
To let Ted Johnson tell it, there was a lot more involved in his desire to teach his son, Tedric, to be a sportsman.
“It was my way of spending quality time, to teach him responsibility and patience,” the elder Johnson said. “Fishing was a way to keep him occupied and it gave me enjoyment, too. Hunting was a way to teach him how to focus, handle a gun safely and the enjoyment of being still in the outdoors.
“Outdoor activities, in my view, have an ability to keep a child active and out of mischief, while learning to enjoy others and enjoying time alone,” he said.
Ted Johnson said he wanted his son to do a lot more than play video games.
Now, what about taking a 2-year-old Tedric out fishing. “Well, it was a pretty good day and I was used to going out fishing and I wanted him to be outdoors…He caught a 2-inch bream and it took him about 45 minutes to get it in. I just laughed the whole time.”
Tedric said he is okay with his dad’s reasons to get him on the water and in the woods at an early age.
“It’s something he likes to do and he was able to pass it on to me,” he said. “I like being outside, in the woods doing something, rather than just sitting in the house playing video games.”
His dad concurs. “He was a natural. He has always enjoyed being outside trying to fix or create things. He loves all outdoor activities.”
Tedric says that while he has devoted so much time to the outdoors, there were other activities for him. He has played basketball, baseball, football and he was on a swim team.
But, none of those could wrestle him away from the lakes and woods.
This World needs more tackle boxes and less X-Boxes - Earl Dibbles, Jr.
Tedric, a recent graduate of Zachary High School, is about to become a licensed, professional welder. It’s something he has found a niche in and loves the work. He’s attending Baton Rouge Community College to complete all of the certifications he needs. He does some welding at a shop near his house now.
He gets a big laugh about fishing with his mom, Shirly Johnson. “Yes. It kind of turns into a competition between her and me on who can catch the most and the biggest fish.”
He likes both fresh and saltwater fishing “because you get a different type of experience and get to catch different types of fish.”
Tedric says his best fishing day was as a young teenager when he went to Okhissa Lake, in the Homochitto (Mississippi) National Forest when he had to take some time to bring in a 23-inch bass. “That was the best.”
Tedric said his most memorable time hunting happened “when my dad took me squirrel hunting and we came home with a deer.”
Speaking of deer, Tedric has developed a great taste for deer meat. His favorite is making burgers from deer meat. Fish is another story. Tedric won’t touch it. “I just don’t like the taste of seafood.”
Ask the aspiring welder anything about his outdoor life and he is ready with an answer. But, if you want to stump him, all you have to do is ask, what would you do if you couldn’t fish or hunt? “Honestly, I really don’t know.”
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