Reviving Florida Heritage Outdoor Sports

By Holly Giles | Florida

florida outdoor sports

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Florida Heritage Outdoor Sports

It was the fall of 1978. At 4 am, the bells began ringing on my grandfather’s wind-up alarm clock. I had slept in my clothes to prepare for the fishing trip. It was quiet and still in darkness as we loaded the nets, buckets, and coolers into the truck. We were headed to the Indian River to cast net for mullet. I can recall every detail of that day because it was full of new experiences, family traditions, and time with my grandfather.

my grandfather bass fishing in florida in the 1950's

Childhood in Florida

Throughout my childhood, I experienced outdoor sports with my grandfather, hunting different kinds of game and fishing in Florida’s rivers, lakes, and oceans, just as he learned from his father. My generation has all but forgotten many of these skills that were passed down, in part to provide food for families. Modern technology, global food sources, and the internet have replaced what traditional bonding time between parents and children was. We are living in a marvelous period of history right now. However, the increase in technological advances is creating a great divide in the common ground between generations.

outdoor sports of boating on wekiva river florida

Our Children’s childhood

Living in Florida allows us to re-introduce the rich historical roots of heritage outdoor sports to our children. These types of activities can appeal to fathers who experienced them as a boy or always wanted to try a new sport. Hunting and fishing offer a unique way to connect with nature. The excitement of early morning hours, the adventure of discovering new places, and immersing in the beauty of Florida. This can quickly take shape as a new tradition in children’s minds.

My husband, Curtis, fished some as a boy but has always wanted to explore more. Both our sons, Grayson and Grant, have a passion for fishing, which allows Curtis to relive his childhood. Curtis spends quality moments with his sons perfecting their cast, figuring out what a Rattle Trap, Baby Brush Hog, and Salty Sling baits are suitable for, along with friendly competitions. The early mornings and late evenings out on the boat may not be building math and reading skills, but they are building something more meaningful, relationships.


florida bass fishing in the backyard

The benefits of being outdoors

These adventures often require time, patience, and new skills to learn together. Relationships strengthen during the quiet moments on a boat, dock, or in a forest. Dreams unfold, and character develops.

See my picks for outdoor adventures!

I asked my boys if they could share their favorite memories of hanging out with dad. Of course, they gave me an “awe mom” look at first, then they both began chatting and laughing aloud. “Remember when Grant was the motor when we were duck hunting? He had to push the boat everywhere so we wouldn’t spook the birds,” said Grayson. Grant piped in, “Well, the boat was so camouflaged when you set out the duck decoys you thought we had left you, and we were just fifteen feet away!” Then, they giggled over Curtis getting his boots stuck in the mud and having to go barefoot. They shared a few more stories with a similar thread of being outdoors. Then Grayson looked at me and said, “Mom, those are the days I love best, outside, learning new stuff with daddy.”

 duck hunting in florida

Relationships strengthen during the quiet moments on a boat, dock, or in a forest.

The Future of traditional Florida

We have found a way to revive and create new traditions as a family. Learning alongside our children has been an excellent benefit of trying new adventures in outdoor sports. Many outdoor activities can ignite a spark to learn more for you and your children. Florida offers opportunities at every turn to help children develop a passion for the outdoors.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC, offers ample opportunities to introduce your children to our state’s heritage outdoor sports. Youth hunting programs, fishing clinics, and camps across the state bring together mentors. People who have a passion for teaching younger generations.

outdoor sports small game hunting in florida

Florida Wildlife Commission

Grayson, our oldest son, was selected to attend the youth quail hunt through FWC last year in Punta Gorda. Our whole family was able to join in. The experience was life-changing for each of us in different ways. We were immersed in wild Florida, bird dogs, and people passionate about teaching an American tradition. These activities have spilled over into our everyday life. By learning to cook wild game together, life skills training, and unique shared experiences. At the end of our home education journey, these are some of the memories we will cherish.

Contact FWC through their website: or by phone: 888-404-3922


About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.