Since childhood, Roger Eubank has enjoyed the time-honored traditions of hunting and fishing. Nurtured early in life by his father and uncles, he fondly recalls the family rabbit hunting adventures.
“Those early trips ignited a passion and fascination that still burns today,” he said.
The outdoors served as a classroom that taught him about the inner workings of nature and the intricate cycles of life. It also allowed him to develop a close relationship with his family. In fact, his outdoor pursuits have also been instrumental in developing a strong father-son bond with his 13-year-old son, Lane, who can often be found by his father’s side.
But Eubank has taken his passions a bit farther than most. His greatest joy now comes from introducing other children to outdoor activities. Eubank has been a fixture at Kokomo’s Jim “Moose” Carden Kids Fishing Clinic, where children have the opportunity to learn almost everything associated with angling activities. He also serves as a guide during the Freedom Hunt where handicapped youth have the opportunity to take in Indiana’s special youth deer hunting season. That’s not mentioning he also coaches youth football, baseball and wrestling for Western Middle School.
But for Eubank, his services at these recognized events are not enough. He spends countless hours taking other children hunting and fishing, as long as they express an interest.
“It all began with my nephews and son,” he explained. “I would take them small game hunting and fishing every chance I could.
“Any time you take a child into the woods or on the water, it’s definitely an adventure,” he added with a laugh.
For Eubank, spending quality time with children are precious moments never wasted.
“I can’t describe what it means to me to see a kid be successful,” he said. “And if you are part of that success, it changes your life as well as the child’s.”
For Eubank, it goes farther than the outdoors. Each year he selects several kids to join him on his outdoor exploits.
“We talk about many things important in life, like education,” he added. Several of the young men Eubank has helped mentor in the outdoors have gone on to obtain impressive college degrees. “I use the outdoors as a way of communicating with these kids.”
Eubank has always made time for his son and nephews.
“But about eight years ago, I figured I could always make time for other kids as well,” he added.
During the 2013 deer hunting seasons he took three young boys under his wing, Gage Holder, and brothers Donovan and Mike Marr. “They live fairly close and showed an interest in hunting so I figured that was good enough,” he said.
Eubank carefully explains to his students that hunting is not just about harvesting an animal.
“When a child sees his first wild turkey or has the opportunity to see the woods come alive during the morning’s first light, those are memories as well,” he said. “You don’t have to pull the trigger or reel in a fish to make a lifetime impression. I believe taking a child hunting or fishing changes their lives in a positive manner forever and you have become part of it. I want to show them there is a lot out there to discover, then they can judge for themselves whether or not they want to continue.”
The outdoors is a canvas and Eubank knows it. He uses it as a meaningful way to interact with kids away from life’s interruptions and distractions. It’s his opportunity to help teach kids about the diversity of nature and our dependence on a healthy environment. It’s also an opportunity to teach children about life.
For years I have tried to put into words the real reason why many of us choose to hunt and fish. The problem is, the reasons and motivations that compel us to engage ourselves in these pursuits are hard to put into print. Sometimes I believe if we have to explain it, you probably wouldn’t understand. It is something felt inside. And Eubank shares those same sentiments.
“There are no words that can describe the joy I feel taking a child with me in the outdoors,” said Eubank. “I feel I am making a positive impact and what is more important than that?”
John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.