Years ago I wrote a magazine story featuring the knowledge and opinions of Byron Ferguson, the traditional archery expert whose uncanny feats with a longbow are legendary. In the article, Byron expounded at length as to why he believed the primitive longbow was a better hunting weapon than the modern, hi-tech compound bow. I quoted him voluminously and often.
I was quite pleased with the piece, and so was Byron. He complimented me with glowing, flattering accolades. Then I received a call from the magazine’s editor informing me he had just received a letter from a Mr. So-and-So from Somewhere, USA, angrily accusing me of blatantly offending every compound-bow shooter in the country.
“You’re kidding,” I said. “There’s nothing offensive in that story. Besides, those quotes he’s so upset about are Ferguson’s, not mine. There wasn’t a Kornegay opinion in the whole dadgum thing.”
“Well, be that as it may,” my editor chuckled, “he’s blaming you. You know how some folks just love to shoot the messenger. And by the way, I took the liberty of writing him back to say you’d likely take offense and will be more than willing to meet him on the field of honor. He’ll be armed with his trusty compound bow against you with your trusty ball point pen. No, wait. You use a typewriter, don’t you?”
I never met my vociferous critic, on the field of honor or anywhere else. I have, however, not felt totally at ease around compound-bow archers ever since.
Isn’t that how it is, though? It’s true. They always shoot the messenger.
I tell someone I heard the crappies are biting on Lake Seminole. Later, I get a call cussing me for a know-nothing fool who has no business writing about crappie fishing
I quote a noted fisheries biologist concerning the potential hazards of hot-weather catch-and-release practices. Soon after, I’m accused of coming out against bass tournaments and the anglers who love them.
If I ever tell a fellow I read about a good deal on plastic worms at the tackle shop across the street, I’ll probably get the blame if he gets run over by a bus while crossing.
Worst thing is I never once claimed to be an expert at anything. As a rule, I just pass along the “experts’ ” information. Why, then, do I always catch it if that information seems or proves to be faulty?
“You know, some fly fishing purists say trout fishing with live bait is unethical and wrong,” I offer in conversation, just before Bubba Good Ol’ Boy punches me in the nose and attempts to shove a handful of night crawlers down my throat.
Even my staunchest friends, who should know better, do not hesitate to vent their spleen on me.
“What’s the weather gonna be like today?” Cletus Monroe queries.
“Well,” I reply, “the forecast calls for the rain to be gone by daybreak with partly cloudy to fair skies afterward. Sounds like a good day to be on the river.”
Three hours later, the boat is about to capsize in a gale force wind. The rain falls in droplets the size of marbles. Lightning sizzles the air in every conceivable direction. Worse, I’m having trouble getting the outboard started.
“Partly cloudy to fair, my butt!” Clete screams. “If I ever get back to the bank I’ll cut you up and feed you to the gators!”
“Look here, fool,” I retort. “Do you see ‘WEATHER CHANNEL’ written anywhere on this rain suit I’m wearing!”
“Then shut up and paddle!”
That little incident was the last straw. I’m done with dispensing “expert” advice and opinion. Matter of fact, I’ve added to my verbal arsenal a stock answer I intend to use for all occasions from now on. A standard reply to every question asked.
I don’t freakin’ know!
Even when I do.
Questions? Comments? E-mail Bob Kornegay at email@example.com