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OUTDOORS COLUMN: The truth does hurt

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

I happened to run upon my cousin Donna not long ago. Hadn't seen her in about a hundred years. It was a pleasant reunion.

"Gee, Bobby," she said, noting my full beard and recently acquired ponytail, "you look like a writer."

"Why, thanks, sweetheart," I replied, unbuttoning my patch-sleeved tweed jacket and doing my very best to look even more writerish.

Next day, I missed three deadlines, dangled a thousand participles, and filled a wastebasket with wadded-up, discarded column leads. Not to mention prompting my word-processing spell-check to flash the message: "Warning! Idiot User Alert!"

Last summer, while fishing for trout in a mountain stream, I was stylishly bedecked in expensive Orvis waders, an equally pricey globetrotting-angler's shirt, my custom-made fishing vest, and a Three Forks Stetson Fedora. My fly rod, along with an impeccably matched and balanced reel, cost me.....Well; let's just say I've bought automobiles for a lot less. I carried a wading staff and would have, if not for the inconvenience and hassle involved in keeping the darn thing lit, smoked a hand-carved pipe of the finest briar as well.

"Looky yonder, Lester Earl," I heard a grizzled old overall-clad bait-chunker say, "That boy shore does look like a trout fisherman, don't he?" Lester Earl spat a stream of Red Man juice into the creek and nodded in agreement.

I swelled with pride and inwardly gloated, just prior to rounding a bend, turning my ankle on a stream-bed rock, hooking an overhanging limb with an errant backcast, and falling flat on my face in the middle of a pool. The latter faux pas resulted in my spooking a 28-inch brown trout, thus motivating his frenzied flight to a spot roughly 100 miles upstream.

I stepped down from the plantation dog wagon, fully aware of all eyes upon me. I selected the proper pair of shooting glasses for the available light, carefully avoided snagging or mussing my carefully pressed briar breeches (cuffs ending at just the right point atop the instep of my kangaroo-hide upland footwear), and walked confidently toward the thick weed patch where two princely English setters were locked frozen on rigid point. I extracted two shells from my tailored shooting vest and inserted them into my breeched, custom-fitted over/under shotgun, trying (quite successfully) to affect a haughty, bored, and somewhat nonchalant demeanor. I assumed an experienced and capable gunner's position and with a slight nod informed the dog handler of my readiness.

"Oh my, a quail hunter's quail hunter, that one," I heard an admiring member of our hunting party say.

The handler flushed the wild covey and I swung fluidly on a cock bobwhite angling away and to my right. An easy mark.

I missed. Badly. Didn't cut a single feather.

"Big boy, you be de mos' blue-true duck hunter I evah see," offered my Louisiana Cajun waterfowl guide. "Lemme heah you blow dat highball call."

I blew a note remarkably resembling the sound emanating from a flatulent mule.

"I swear, Robert, you, sir, are the very image of a blue-water angler," uttered my offshore fishing companion. "I must get a photograph of your fighting this marlin. I must."

I promptly stepped on a dead baitfish and fell head over heels onto the deck. The big billfish (along with the guide's fishing tackle) disappeared into the briny depths.

I donned my khaki cargo shorts, knee socks, and hi-top hiking boots. I tucked in my soft-canvas trail shirt and put on my monogrammed Cabela's Safari Vest. I hung my $500 birding binoculars around my neck and upon my head placed a wide-brimmed boonie hat equipped with a built-in mosquito-net face-and-neck cover. I locked the door behind me, climbed into Cletus Monroe's pickup, and settled myself on the passenger seat.

We rode in silence for 20 minutes, then, without the slightest hint of emotion, Clete nonchalantly stated, "Hoss, you look like a damn fool. You know that, don't you?"

Kris Kristofferson once wrote a song containing the line, "Preferring perfect strangers to the company of friends."

Now I know why I've always admired Kris's work so much.